Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Can a Chiropractor Help Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

Can a chiropractor help lumbar spinal stenosis?

Answer

I do not know of anything a chiropractor can do for lumbar spinal stenosis other than recommend behavior modification that includes use of flexion exercise and back support for symptomatic relief.

Generally, the onset of symptoms caused by lumbar spinal stenosis after middle age is caused by bony overgrowth, thickened ligaments, or degenerative slipping of vertebrae that narrows the spinal canal, encroaching upon spinal nerves or the spinal cord. Spinal manipulation cannot change spinal stenosis and may cause harm.

If back pain, leg pain, leg weakness, and other symptoms become intolerable, surgical decompression of the spinal canal might be an option. Keep in touch with an orthopedist or a neurosurgeon who can monitor your progress and use CT or MRI scans to measure your spinal canal and rule out a tumor. Your age and quality of life would be additional factors to consider.

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This page was revised on April 16, 2002.