Can Chiropractic Care Help With Stenosis?

June 17, 2023

Lower back pain is a significant problem in the United States, with nearly one-fifth of adults experiencing some form of back pain each year. Unfortunately, studies have shown that approximately 13.1% of adults aged 20-69 years suffer from chronic back pain. While back pain may not be life-threatening, it can be debilitating and challenging to manage. While painkillers may provide temporary relief, non-pharmacological approaches such as chiropractic care offer a promising alternative for back pain management. In this article, we will explore the role of chiropractic care in the treatment of spinal stenosis, the leading cause of chronic lower back pain.

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Understanding Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the primary cause of chronic lower back pain. It can manifest as consistent pain for some individuals or episodic lower back pain for others. Interestingly, studies have revealed that many people live with asymptomatic spinal stenosis, putting them at risk of developing future back pain.

The spinal cord, a thick bundle of nerves, travels through a well-protected canal, providing innervation to various body organs. Stenosis refers to the narrowing of this canal at certain points. When stenosis occurs, it exerts undue pressure on the nerve bundles, resulting in symptoms such as lower back pain.

The lumbar region, or lower back, is particularly susceptible to spinal stenosis due to its relatively high mobility. This region is prone to wear and tear conditions like osteoarthritis, which remains the leading cause of spinal stenosis. However, other factors, such as rheumatoid arthritis, spinal injury, and poor posture, can also contribute to the development of spinal stenosis.

Less-discussed causes, such as incorrect sitting posture and prolonged screen time, can also play a significant role in spinal stenosis.

Common signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis include:

  1. Chronic back pain: Painkillers may provide some relief, but often fail to adequately alleviate the pain.
  2. Increased pressure on the sciatic nerve leading to sciatica, resulting in pain in the buttocks and legs.
  3. Changes in sensation in the feet, and possibly weakness.
  4. In severe cases, additional symptoms may include loss of sexual function, reduced bladder control, severe pain and numbness in the legs, and difficulty walking.

Treatment Approaches for Spinal Stenosis

Managing spinal stenosis can be challenging for doctors, as drug therapy primarily focuses on pain relief without directly addressing the underlying condition. Painkillers may temporarily alleviate pain but have limited impact on spinal stenosis itself. As a result, doctors often rely on spontaneous remission of the condition, which may not occur in many cases. In such instances, doctors may recommend physiotherapy, spinal manipulations, and alternative treatments as viable options. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be considered. However, due to the sensitive nature of the spine, surgery carries potential risks and complications.

Spinal manipulation remains one of the most reliable methods for inducing remission and preventing future episodes of back pain. Chiropractic care, in particular, plays a vital role in the management of spinal stenosis.

The Role of Chiropractic Care in Spinal Stenosis

Chiropractors are healthcare professionals specializing in the management of neuromuscular conditions using non-pharmacological and non-invasive approaches. They excel in spinal manipulation, which is a central component of chiropractic care.

Chiropractors employ a combination of modern diagnostic methods and traditional approaches to thoroughly understand the root cause of spinal stenosis. Their goal extends beyond providing immediate relief to preventing future episodes of back pain and improving the overall function and mobility of the spine.

  1. Spinal Adjustment: Chiropractic care focuses on spinal adjustment techniques to realign the spine and alleviate pressure on the affected nerves. Chiropractors use gentle manual adjustments or specialized instruments to manipulate the spine, promoting proper alignment and restoring normal range of motion. By addressing the underlying misalignments contributing to spinal stenosis, chiropractic adjustments can reduce pain and improve the functioning of the nervous system.
  2. Physical Therapy: In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors often incorporate physical therapy exercises into the treatment plan for spinal stenosis. These exercises aim to strengthen the supporting muscles of the spine, increase flexibility, and improve posture. Physical therapy can help stabilize the spine, reduce inflammation, and enhance the overall effectiveness of chiropractic care.
  3. Postural Education: Chiropractors also educate patients about maintaining proper posture and body mechanics, both during daily activities and while sitting or standing for prolonged periods. Poor posture can exacerbate the symptoms of spinal stenosis and lead to further misalignments. By teaching patients how to maintain a neutral spine and engage in ergonomically correct movements, chiropractors empower individuals to take an active role in their own spinal health.
  4. Lifestyle Modifications: Chiropractors often provide guidance on lifestyle modifications that can support the management of spinal stenosis. This may include recommendations on exercise routines, weight management, and ergonomic adjustments in the home and workplace. By making positive changes to their daily habits and environments, patients can reduce the strain on their spine and promote healing.
  5. Holistic Approach: Chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to patient well-being, considering the interconnectedness of the body systems. Chiropractors may suggest complementary therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, or nutritional counseling to further enhance the effectiveness of treatment. These additional modalities can address muscle tension, improve circulation, and support overall health and healing.

It's important to note that chiropractic care is typically considered a safe and non-invasive treatment option for spinal stenosis. However, it is essential to consult with a qualified chiropractor and work in collaboration with other healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that suits individual needs.


Spinal stenosis can significantly impact an individual's quality of life, causing chronic lower back pain and related symptoms. While traditional medical interventions often focus on pain management through medication or surgery, chiropractic care offers a non-pharmacological alternative that addresses the underlying causes of spinal stenosis.

By utilizing spinal adjustments, physical therapy, postural education, lifestyle modifications, and a holistic approach to patient care, chiropractors can help manage chronic lower back pain associated with spinal stenosis. Chiropractic care aims to alleviate pain, improve spinal function, and enhance overall well-being, empowering individuals to take an active role in their spinal health and enjoy a better quality of life.

If you are experiencing chronic lower back pain or have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, it is recommended to consult with a chiropractor or healthcare professional to discuss whether chiropractic care may be a suitable treatment option for you.

Remember, the information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your specific condition.

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