Harvard Men's Health Watch

Physical therapy as good as surgery for common spine-related back pain

Surgery and intensive physical therapy each produce similar relief for spinal stenosis, or back pain caused by narrowing of the space around the spinal nerves. Surgery has risks, but physical therapy requires more effort. The choice comes down to personal preference. Some men may find surgical risks acceptable in exchange for the chance of immediate relief; other men may prefer to give physical therapy a try first. Research suggests that the physical therapy must be relatively rigorous to be effective.
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