Results of a study appearing this month in the journal Spine of treatment approaches for patients with spinal stenosis suggest that long-term outcomes are comparable with either surgery or conservative treatment. The study, conducted by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH is termed the largest and highest-quality analysis conducted to date, and the results provide new information on what patients can expect from alternate treatment decisions.
Patients with spinal stenosis have narrowing of the spinal canal, causing back pain, leg pain, and other symptoms. The researchers analyzed 654 patients with spinal stenosis treated in 13 hospitals across 11 states. Outcomes were assessed in terms of pain, functioning, and disability. The study reports that, while surgery appeared to provide better outcomes initially, with longer follow-up the difference between surgical and nonsurgical treatment were not significant. The results have important implications for discussing the expected long-term outcomes of treatment for spinal stenosis. Read a news report, with link to the study findings here.