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Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis can be found in two areas of the spine, either in the cervical or the lumbar section. Both of these forms of stenosis can be just as painful and debilitating as the other. However, cervical stenosis is much more dangerous because it can pinch the spinal cord.

Cervical stenosis is much more dangerous than lumbar stenosis because the spinal cord does not reach into the lumbar segment of the spinal canal. Lumbar stenosis shows symptoms of sciatica (numbness, weakness, tingling, and pain that radiates down through the legs) while symptoms of cervical stenosis can include much more serious problems such as weakness throughout the body that could even lead to paralysis.

Spinal stenosis is a result of degeneration in the spine and is usually first observed in patients around the age of 50-60. The most common treatments for spinal stenosis include exercise, activity modification, and epidural injections.

Exercise for spinal stenosis is used to keep the patient as active and mobile as possible. Although the exercise itself may not be targeted at treating the patient’s stenosis, it helps to keep the patient active and mobile. Walking is not a suggested activity unless the patient is walking while bent forward over a walker or shopping cart.

Epidural injection for back pain can help to temporarily relieve spinal stenosis symptoms making it easier for a patient to perform physical therapy as well as live a much more active life.

For patients who do not improve with nonoperative care, have continued pain and are unable to maintain an activity level, then the definitive treatment is surgery. There are currently many surgical options ranging from minimally invasive to reconstructive. See a spine specialist for a full opinion.

To learn more about Dr. Cotler or to schedule an appointment, please call us on (713) 523-8884 or visit

Howard B. Cotler, MD, FACS, FAAOS is board certified and recertified in Orthopedic Surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

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