Spinal stenosis care at Mayo Clinic

Team approach

People who come to Mayo Clinic for spinal stenosis care will be treated by a multidisciplinary team. It may include specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, physical rehabilitation, oncology, pain medicine, radiology and rheumatology. Mayo Clinic doctors work together to make sure you get exactly the care you need.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Getting the right diagnosis is key to developing a care plan that helps you. Mayo Clinic patients have access to advanced neuroimaging technology to accurately identify the source of their spinal problems. Three-dimensional imaging such as MRIs and CT myelography is interpreted by board-certified neuroradiologists.

At Mayo Clinic you may also undergo diagnostic studies that aren't available at many institutions, such as in-motion imaging (dynamic imaging) and weight-bearing studies.

After your diagnostic tests are completed, your doctors will talk with you about your treatment options, which may include medicine, physical therapy, surgery or a combination of these. In general, unless your condition is severe, your doctor will first work with you on nonsurgical (conservative) treatment options.

If surgery is the right option for you, you will be seen by a surgeon who focuses his or her practice on surgical spine care. Mayo Clinic spinal surgeons perform procedures that aren't available at many other hospitals, such as laminoplasties. They use computer-aided navigation for some operations. And they offer minimally invasive procedures in some situations, which can help avoid fusions and speed recovery.

Care focused on your needs

Doctors at Mayo Clinic provide care for you as an individual. They take the time to get to know you and work with you to provide care that fits with your goals and needs. And their collaborative approach to care means efficient care. In many cases you can be diagnosed and start treatment in just a few days.

Research and innovation

Mayo Clinic surgeons were among the first to perfect minimally invasive spine procedures. And they were early adopters of intraoperative imaging, which uses a computer to guide the surgeon during the operation.

Mayo Clinic doctors are conducting innovative research to advance the care of people with spinal stenosis. Areas of research include:

  • Using stem cell therapies (regenerative medicine) for degenerative disc disease. These stem cells are used to decompress the spine, slow the degenerative process and relieve pain.
  • Identifying gene markers (genomics) for spinal degeneration to help with early diagnosis and gene therapy.
  • Studying surgical outcomes and minimally invasive procedures to help make surgery safer, with the aid of a Mayo-developed national registry in spine surgery.
  • Studying integrative medicine approaches to painful spinal stenosis.

The Mayo Clinic experience and patient stories

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.

  1. Robotic Spine Surgery Renews Scott Walling's Independence

    Last summer, Scott Walling was in excruciating pain, and he could barely walk. Today he's pain-free and enjoying his favorite hobbies again, thanks to a new procedure offered by Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurosurgery. One of Scott Walling's favorite activities is trapshooting, especially because it's a pastime he gets to share with his children -- [...]

  2. Back to Pursuing Her Passions After Spine Surgery

    Kathie Hanson went from being an active outdoor enthusiast to being unable to walk without assistance. But the care she received at Mayo Clinic has again allowed her to take part in the many activities that fill her life with joy. Swimming has been a huge part of Kathie Hanson's life. She was a lifeguard [...]

  3. Two Neurosurgeries Drive Dramatic Recovery

    When Bob Goldberg was given a diagnosis of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, he was dubious and decided to get another opinion at Mayo Clinic. A year later, after two successful surgeries, Bob can once again think clearly and walk on his own. Bob Goldberg has always been great with numbers. His natural ability to do [...]

  4. Released to Reengage With Life

    Weighed down by pain and weakness, Valieda Burns became confined and isolated. But neurosurgery to decompress her spine freed her to once again be active, engaged and connected with others. In July, 78-year-old Valieda Burns took the trip of a lifetime ? a 14-day cruise to the British Isles with a side trip to Paris. [...]

  5. Getting Bob Back on His Feet

    Diagnosis and treatment of normal pressure hydrocephalus for Robert Richter meant the difference between being confined to a wheelchair and being able to actively enjoy his life. Members of Robert Richter's extended family were excited to see him on his feet and walking unassisted at the annual family picnic in early August. "They went through [...]

  6. Minimally Invasive Back Surgery Puts Fear and Pain in the Past

    Michele Krause's fear of surgery prevented her from seeking a surgical remedy for her back pain for years. All of that began to change?when she heard?a Mayo Clinic surgeon explain a less-invasive procedure. Michele Krause was scared. She needed spinal fusion surgery. But after witnessing the consequences a family member had suffered after going through [...]

Expertise and rankings

A Mayo Clinic surgeon and doctor discuss spinal stenosis.


Mayo Clinic doctors trained in spine conditions (neurologists) and spine surgery (neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons) have experience in evaluating and treating people with all types of spinal stenosis. Each year, Mayo Clinic doctors diagnose and treat more than 9,000 people with spinal stenosis, including those with rare disorders and those who require complex surgeries.

Research shows that spine surgeries result in fewer complications when done by highly experienced surgeons. Don't hesitate to ask about your surgeon's experience with spinal stenosis surgery. If you have any doubts, get a second opinion.

Treatment expertise

At Mayo Clinic you will find surgeons who specialize in the spine. They use an integrated spine care model, which means they focus on restoring your ability to function and improving your quality of life. And they work with you to choose an individualized treatment plan from the full range of options — medication, spine injections, integrative techniques, minimally invasive surgery and conventional surgery.

Because Mayo Clinic surgeons are highly experienced with minimally invasive techniques, the clinic has one of the lowest rates of fusion in people who undergo surgery for lumbar stenosis in the United States. While fusions are a useful way to stabilize the spine and reduce pain, by avoiding them you can reduce potential risks and complications.

Nationally recognized expertise

A Mayo Clinic surgeon and nurse discuss a patient treated for spinal stenosis.

Mayo Clinic is a founding member of the High Value Healthcare Collaborative, a network of health care institutions that share research data and work together to improve health care.

In addition, Mayo Clinic neurologists and neurosurgeons regularly contribute to medical journals to advance treatment of people with spinal stenosis everywhere. And they conduct symposiums and other educational offerings for other physicians.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., rank among the Best Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked high-performing for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Learn more about Mayo Clinic's neurosurgery and neurology departments' expertise and rankings.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

March 08, 2018