Spinal Stenosis Treatment Overview


Patients seeking spinal stenosis treatment can find world-class care at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Comprehensive Spine Center.

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis may occur in the neck (cervical spine) and affect the shoulders and arms, or in the lower back (lumbar spine) and affect the legs. Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and hot or cold sensations. Spinal stenosis is often the result of the natural aging process and occurs most commonly in patients over 50 years of age.

With spinal stenosis treatment, patients may find temporary or permanent relief from the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

In this video, orthopaedic surgeon Christopher M. Bono, MD, neurosurgeon Michael W. Groff, MD, and physiatrist Zacharia Isaac, MD, discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment for spine care. The Spine Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital provides personalized, comprehensive care for patients with spinal disorders. Our neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons work with specialists in physical medicine, pain management and imaging to first offer patients innovative non-surgical solutions.

Spinal stenosis treatment at BWH.

Patients coming to BWH for spinal stenosis treatment will consult with some of the best neurosurgeons in the country. The multidisciplinary staff in Brigham and Women's Hospital Comprehensive Spine Center provides innovative, patient-focused medical care to people from all around the country and the world. Our team of internationally recognized neurosurgeons, all members of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, provide state-of-the-art treatments and care using many revolutionary techniques to improve outcomes for patients.

Nonsurgical spinal stenosis treatment

Spinal stenosis treatment at BWH may include surgical and nonsurgical therapies. Physicians typically recommend nonsurgical therapies first. These include:

  • Pain management therapies such as physical therapy to make the back muscles stronger, acupuncture to relieve pain, massage therapy to stretch and relieve back muscles, or cold packs and keep therapy to help with pain during flare-ups.
  • Medicine such as acetaminophen to relieve pain, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling around a disk or of arthritis in the back. If stronger medication is required, physicians may recommend narcotic pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants for chronic lower back pain.
  • An epidural spinal injection, where medicine is injected directly into the space around the spinal cord or spinal nerves.

Surgical spinal stenosis treatment

When nonsurgical spinal stenosis treatment proves ineffective, our team may recommend spine surgery. Surgical options include:

  • Decompression. This spinal stenosis treatment, known as a laminectomy, involves removing the bone and soft issues of the spine that are pinching the nerves.
  • Spinal fusion. This spinal stenosis treatment is typically used when there is a deformity of the vertebra or curvature of the spine. Surgeons will permanently fuse together two or more vertebra to prevent them from moving and compressing the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Discectomy, a surgery to remove all or part of a disc that is pressing on the spinal cord.
  • Foraminotomy, a surgery that widens the opening in the back where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.

Brigham and Women's offers comprehensive healthcare across a number of medical specialties, including treatment for osteoporosis, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, care for high risk pregnancy, cardiology and more. Use our physician directory to search for a doctor by specialty, such as experts in women and depression, or search by location or language.

Learn more about Spinal Stenosis Treatment and other Spinal Condition Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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