Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is lumbar spinal stenosis diagnosed?

Your doctor will:

  • Discuss with you your full medical history
  • Do a comprehensive physical examination
  • Do a neurological evaluation to conclude if nerve damage is contributing to your symptoms

Depending on your condition, your doctor may want to get detailed pictures of your spine and to confirm the diagnosis of spinal stenosis. Your doctor may order additional diagnostic tests such as:

How is lumbar spinal stenosis treated?

Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis varies from patient to patient. Generally, your doctor will consider non-surgical options first. Your doctor may recommend surgery only when other alternatives have been proven unsatisfactory or unsuitable.

Non-surgical options

Non-surgical treatments are limited to relieving symptoms and cannot reverse the narrowing of the spinal canal. This includes:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (These must be used with care and medical supervision)
  • Steroid (cortisone) injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care

Surgical options

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your quality of life has been severely affected by your condition. For example, if you are unable to walk for extended periods, or if you have found non-surgical treatments unsatisfactory in relieving your symptoms.

Spinal decompression and spinal fusion

You may need to go for spinal decompression surgery to create space for the compressed nerves. If you have severe arthritis or a herniated disc, you may also need to undergo spinal fusion.

Severe arthritis or a herniated disc result in excessive motion between vertebra. Spinal fusion helps to stabilise the spin by permanently connecting two or more vertebrae.

After spinal decompression, bone grafts and screws may be placed if fusion is deemed necessary to stabilise the spine or to correct deformity.


You may need to go for a laminectomy, or decompression laminectomy. It is a procedure that allows the surgeon to cut away the bony spurs, thickened ligaments or other growths that have compressed the nerves.

It can be performed as an open surgery with one large incision or through small keyhole/minimally invasive incisions.

Consult an orthopaedic surgeon to learn more about the treatment and management options for your spine condition.

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