CF 230: Lumbar Stenosis

Today we’re going to talk about lumbar stenosis

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music


OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. 

We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers.

I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

  • Go to Amazon and check our my book called The Remarkable Truth About Chiropractic: A Unique Journey Into The Research. It’s a great resource for patient education and for YOU. It saves you time in putting talks together or just staying current on research. It’s categorized into sections and written in a way that is easy to understand for you and patients. Just search for it on Amazon. That’s the Remarkable Truth About Chiropractic by Jeff Williams. 
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You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #230

Now if you missed last week’s episode , we talked about T-sp Adjustments For Neck, Not Headache & Physical Activity In Children. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. 


On the personal end of things…..

As I mentioned last week, I just finished the book called Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and another dude. Lol I can’t remember his name and don’t have time to look. Brad Hanby or something like that. Anyway, I’m on the hunt for an associate as a result. Great book and I know that with some help, not only will I have more time available to be a more effective clinic owner and doctor, but I’ll have the opportunity to grow the practice as well. It’ll be great. Give me a holler if interested in working in a busy evidence-based, patient -centered and medically integrated clinic that is making a difference int he Texas Panhandle. That’s us. 

Now, I’ve started reading a book recommended to me by Ben Fergus of the GRIP method fame and a fellow member of the MCM Mastermind you’ve heard me mention. This book is called Think Again by Adam Grant. It’s all about learning to search for the things you don’t really know and be willing to re-think your thoughts and stances on things. I’m still just getting into it a bit but it’s pretty alright and it’s teaching me some stuff. 

I also started a book by Gray Cook called The Business Of Movement I saw recommended by Jason Hulme recently in a Facebook group. It’s probably the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance group if I’m guessing. Anyway, that one just came in the mail. Hell, I need an associate just so I’ll have time to read and get up to date. I also just joined an online class called Quadrant Analysis that I’m looking forward to diving into. 

So, I’m not perfect. Don’t follow everything I do. I could do better soap notes. I could do a lot of things better but….#1 our patients are 99% likely to refer us to their friends and family #2 ChiroUp tells me our clinic has about an 80% improvement rate for any and all conditions considered. #3 I’m 49, been in this sucker for 24 years, and I can’t wait to learn more and more. We can always learn more. We can always get better. We never know it all. If I ever find an associate that wants to come to the Texas Panhandle, that’ll be one of the first things I make sure they understand. If you ever stop learning, you’re either ignorant or you’re arrogant. Each is equally appalling. 

Boom, snap, pow, slap. 

Some of you may have seen a post by a ‘chiropractor’ …..I use the term loosely when referring to this dummy. She put on social medial recently the following, “An ovarian cyst is a functional gift from nature to make your more attractive and fertile after a traumatic loss. An enlarged prostate is a fit from nature to make you more potent after feeling degraded as a man. Tumors are not mistakes, they are purposeful adaptations.”

Bless her heart…. This little knucklehead is running around spouting this stuff and, yup you guessed it…is a chiropractor. I’m quoted in an article now saying she’s insane. Mostly because that’s my opinion and the only one I can think of that makes any sense with regard to a statement like that. 

I bring it up because you have to know these loony birds are out there soiling our names and our hard work. The people that listen regularly here are normal, educated, and hard working evidence based patient centered chiropractors out there changing the world and elevating this profession beyond quack BS that has held the profession back for so long. If however you stumbled upon this podcast and you believe stuff like this is plausible, please, don’t leave. Don’t go anywhere. 

Let me introduce you to evidence and research and sanity. 

Before getting into the research, I have to tell you, Dr. Chris Howson, the inventor of the Drop Release tool re-activated the code! It’s live again. Use the code HOTSTUFF upon purchase at to get $50 off your purchase. Y’all, it makes a world of difference. Would you like to spend 5-10 minutes doing pin and stretch and all of that? Or would you rather use a drop release to get the same or similar results in just a handful of seconds. My patients love it and I know yours will too. and the discount code is HOTSTUFF. Go do it. Hear me now and believe me later.

Let’s get to it.


Item #1

This frist one is called “Diagnosis and Management of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis A Review” by Katz et. al. (Katz JN 2022) and published in JAMA on May 3, 2022, that was just like 3 weeks ago damn the heat….It burns

This is more of an article than a standard research paper so lets hit the high points with some relevant quotes from the report.

“Affects an estimated 103 million persons worldwide. Most are treated nonoperatively. Approximately 600 000 surgical procedures are performed in the US each year for lumbar spinal stenosis.”

The prevalence of the clinical syndrome of lumbar spinal stenosis in US adults is approximately 11% and increases with age.”

“The diagnosis can generally be made based on a clinical history of back and lower extremity pain that is provoked by lumbar extension, relieved by lumbar flexion, and confirmed with cross-sectional imaging, such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)”

More specifically, from my learning through the Neuromusculoskeletal diplomate program, a little clinic pearl here is the shopping cart sign. If they have to use a shopping cart to lean forward over in order to be able to walk through the grocery store, and sitting almost immediately alleviates the pain, there’s a great chance you have some stenosis on your hands. Pain on extension or extension/rotation can bolster the diagnosis. 

Then, on the MRI or CT, if you see the sedimentation sign where the nerve roots stay suspended in teh central canal rather than settling on the bottom of the canal due to gravity. You now have pretty convincing evidence of stenosis. 

“In a series of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis followed up for up to 3 years without operative intervention, approximately one-third of patients reported improvement, approximately 50% reported no change in symptoms, and approximately 10% to 20% of patients reported that their back pain, leg pain, and walking were worse.”

That makes a strong argument for no surgery doesn’t it? Look, most do fine with targeted exercise. There is a stenosis protocol in ChiroUp if you’re not usiing the program. While I am a ChiroUp devotee, I actually use the protocol and program from Dr. Carmen Amendolia. You can find all of his info at It’s excellent and we see really good results using it. 

“Multiple clinical trials have studied manual therapy for spinal stenosis, including lumbar distraction mobilization, hip and sacroiliac joint mobilization, manual stretching, and muscle strengthening. In a clinical trial33 of 58 participants with lumbar spinal stenosis, 79% reported being at least somewhat better following a 6-week program that included manual therapy, treadmill walking, and strengthening and stretching exercises compared with 41% of patients randomized to the flexion exercise group.

The results were similar at 1 year. Schneider et al31 randomized 259 patients with lumbar spinal stenosis to 1 of 3 treatment groups: medications with or without epidural injections, manual therapy with individualized exercise, and group exercises. Participants randomized to manual therapy combined with individual exercises had improved their Zurich Claudication Questionnaire scores significantly more at the 2-month follow-up (mean difference, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.4 to 3.6) than did those randomized to medications with or without injections. Participants randomized to group exercises had similar improvement to those receiving medications and/or epidural injections (mean difference, −0.4; 95% CI, −2.1 to 1.3). The differences between groups were negligible at 6 months.”

“Epidural steroid injections may offer modest short-term pain relief but do not appear to last more than 3 weeks.”

“Long-term benefits of epidural steroid injections for lumbar spinal stenosis have not been demonstrated. Surgery appears effective in carefully selected patients with back, buttock, and lower extremity pain who do not improve with conservative management. “


Wrap Up

Lumbar spinal stenosis affects approximately 103 million people worldwide and 11% of older adults in the US. First-line therapy is activity modification, analgesia, and physical therapy. Long-term benefits from epidural steroid injections have not been established. Selected patients with continued pain and activity limitation may be candidates for decompressive surgery.

The key to remember about stenosis is that it isn’t necessarily the size of the hole rather what is happening to the structures going through the hole. If there is no realy inflammation or complication, stenosis patients may never know they have it. 

Alright, that’s it this week. Keep on keepin’ on. Keep changing our profession from your corner of the world. The world needs evidence-based, patient-centered practitioners driving the bus. The profession needs us in the ACA and involved in leadership of state associations. So quit griping about the profession if you’re doing nothing to make it better. Get active, get involved, and make it happen.

Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. 


Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at 








The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few.

It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient.

And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health!


Key Point:

At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints….

That’s Chiropractic!



Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes. 

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We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.





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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine (FIANM) and Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals (DABFP) – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger



Katz JN, Z. Z., Mass H, Makhni MC, (2022). “Diagnosis and Management of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Review.” JAMA 327(17): 1688-1699.


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