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Alternative Treatments for Spinal Stenosis

Acupuncture and Massage

Peer Reviewed

Alternative treatments for spinal stenosis are just that: alternatives to medication, physical therapy, or surgery (the traditional Western approach to medicine).You may consider going to a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioner; CAM is a somewhat sweeping grouping of practices and therapies that aren't considered part of conventional medicine right now. It includes acupuncture, homeopathy, and massage.

Although these alternative treatments are not considered part of traditional Western medicine, many patients have reported that these treatments have helped.

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To treat your spinal stenosis pain, you may consider:

  • acupuncture: Acupuncture practitioners believe that your body has an energy force called your Qi or Chi (pronounced "chee"). They think that when your Chi is blocked, you can develop physical illness. Acupuncture works to restore a healthy, energetic flow of Chi. (This Eastern approach to healing is different from Western scientific concepts. That doesn't make it better or worse; it just makes it different.) In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts fine needles into your body at specific points—and it doesn't hurt, honestly! There is some evidence that acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, which are the body's own anti-pain chemicals.
  • homeotherapy: This field includes a number of herbal medications and remedies that are helpful in reducing pain, including chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid.
  • massage: You may find that a good massage eases your pain because it relaxes very tense muscles (and tension can add to your pain).

As with any treatment for back pain or neck pain, please talk to your doctor before you try something new.  For example, an herbal medication you take may actually interfere with another prescription or over-the-counter medication you're taking.  You don't want to unwittingly harm yourself, so talk to your doctor and make sure that you're clear to try a treatment.

Updated on: 01/23/13
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
This article was reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD.
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