There are several treatment options available for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Historically, LSS patients had to choose between conservative treatments that provide short-term relief and more invasive, open surgical decompression procedures that provide longer-term relief but also have a higher risk of complications. Now there is a minimally invasive decompression treatment called mild® that provides patients long-term relief1 without the associated risks of open surgery.
When you are diagnosed with LSS, your doctor will typically first recommend conservative nonsurgical treatments. These treatments are low risk but may only provide short-term relief since they do not treat the underlying cause of the symptoms.
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
If your symptoms are not successfully managed with these treatments, your doctor may recommend epidural steroid injections (ESIs). ESIs help to reduce inflammation and may provide temporary pain relief, but more invasive treatment may be required if symptoms cannot be managed.
When conservative nonsurgical treatments have failed to provide relief, your doctor may recommend an open surgical decompression procedure to treat the underlying cause of the symptoms. These procedures remove elements of the spine to alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord, which may affect the structural stability of the spine.
- Laminotomy (partial removal of the bone that covers the spinal canal)
- Laminectomy (removal of the entire bone that covers the spinal canal and the ligaments that are attached to it)
- Spinal fusion (the permanent joining of two or more portions of the spine to eliminate movement between them)
These more invasive open surgical decompression procedures have demonstrated effectiveness in treating LSS for longer-term relief but require multiple days in the hospital, general anesthesia, and have a high risk of potential complications.2
Now, there is a minimally invasive decompression procedure called mild® that treats the underlying cause of LSS symptoms through a very small incision (about the size of a baby aspirin). This procedure can be performed in about an hour and most patients go home the same day. No general anesthesia, stitches or implants are required. Click here to learn more about the mild® procedure.
LSS Treatment Considerations
You should discuss the best treatment option with your doctor. Some important questions to ask your doctor are:
- How effective is the treatment?
- How long will the treatment provide relief from my pain/discomfort?
- What are the risks of the treatment?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital?
- Will I have to undergo general anesthesia?
- How long is the recovery?
Important Safety Information
Although the complication rate for the mild® procedure is low, as with most surgical procedures, serious adverse events, some of which can be fatal, can occur, including heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood or fat that migrates to the lungs or heart). Other risks include infection and bleeding; spinal cord and nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis. This procedure is not for everyone. Please consult your doctor for a discussion of these and other risks and whether this procedure is right for you.
Find a doctor certified to perform the mild® procedure in your area to see if mild® is the right treatment option for you.
1 Mekhail, Nagy, et al. (2012), Functional and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Symptomatic
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Following Percutaneous Decompression. Pain Practice, 12(6):
417–425. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2012.00565.x
2 Major complications include dural tear and blood loss requiring transfusion. Weinstein,
James N., et al. for the SPORT Investigators. (2008), Surgical vs. Nonsurgical Therapy for
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. New Engl J Med, 358: 794–810. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0707136
3 American Society of Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine presentation, 2011 Annual Meeting.