Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a serious health problem, especially among the elderly. “Spinal stenosis has been defined as any narrowing of the spinal canal or the various tunnels through which nerves and other structures communicate with that canal.” 1 The most common symptoms of LSS are:
The authors of a new study2 discuss the problem of LSS:
“LSS is one of the most common reasons for spine surgery in older people, although little is known about the efficacy of surgical management of patients with LSS, particularly compared to non-surgical management. It is generally felt that most patients with LSS should be managed non-surgically before considering surgical intervention, but little is also known about what non-surgical approaches are most efficacious.”
The researchers set out to determine if chiropractic is beneficial for these patients. They studied 55 patients with LSS diagnosed by MRI or CT scans. Each patient was given questionnaires to determine disability and pain intensity before treatment and at a 16-month follow-up. In addition, the subjects were questioned regarding improvement every 3 to 4 weeks during treatment.
The patients were treated with the following techniques:
Patients were given individual treatment plans, but generally were seen 2-3 times per week for three weeks, then one or two times a week after that. The average number of treatments was 13.3.
The authors reported the following findings at the completion of treatment:
At the 16 month follow-up:
Other studies have looked at the natural course of LSS with conservative treatment, and it appears from this study that chiropractic may be more effective than other treatments. A 1996 study3 found that “non-surgical” treatment resulted in improvement of only 1.6 points on the RM after one year.
The authors conclude:
“The combination of DM and NM may be a safe and effective approach for patients with LSS. Because the sample size is relatively small and there is no control group, firm conclusions regarding this cannot be drawn. The outcome of this approach compares favorably with other non-surgical treatments, and treatment with DM and NM may be a viable non-surgical option before considering surgery for LSS.”