Spinal stenosis and myelopathy

Duke's expert spine specialists in Raleigh and Durham achieve excellent outcomes for the slow, progressive narrowing of the spine known as spinal stenosis, and compression of the spinal cord, referred to as myelopathy. Whenever possible, our goal is to avoid your need for surgery. However, when surgery is necessary, our spine surgeons specialize in procedures that minimize the pain and problems associated with spinal stenosis and myelopathy. We work with you to regain your normal function as quickly as possible.

Expert care for spinal stenosis and myelopathy

Stenosis and myelopathy can cause a range of symptoms, from pain and numbness to difficulty walking or problems with bladder and bowel function. If you have been diagnosed with either of these spinal cord conditions, choosing a highly specialized spine team is your best option for reducing your discomfort and regaining your function and mobility. 

We treat the full range of spine conditions, an important consideration because stenosis and myelopathy may result from degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, or trauma such as a spine fracture or spine cancer. Our surgeons are among the best in North Carolina and have particular expertise with decompression surgeries often used to treat stenosis and myelopathy. These procedures relieve the pain and pressure caused by pinched nerves.

Choose Duke Spine Center for your spinal stenosis or myelopathy treatment because we offer:

  • Surgical experience. Surgery for these conditions – myelopathy in particular – can be very challenging because they involve such a tiny, delicate area. Decompression surgeries are commonly practiced under the surgical microscope and involve the removal of bone spurs, disc material and scar tissue surrounding the nerve roots or spinal cord. Choosing highly specialized spine surgeons with advanced training and skill means you experience a safer procedure and better outcomes. We are one of the busiest spine centers in the area. We perform more than 1,200 spine surgeries and complex spine procedures every year.
  • Minimally invasive spine surgeries. Many patients benefit from minimally invasive procedures, which rely on microscopes and tiny instruments to access the spine through small incisions. The technique avoids the need for significant muscle damage, results in less pain, and and helps you recover faster. 
  • Intraoperative imaging technology. We are one of the few centers in the U.S. that offers advanced, intraoperative capabilities with CT and MRI. That means our surgeons use detailed, 3-D pictures of your spine and the tiny nerves and roots of your spinal cord in the operating room to guide them as they operate.
  • Specialized team. In addition to our orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, our team includes nonoperative doctors and nurses, acupuncturists, a psychologist, pain management experts and physical therapists -- all of whom may play a role working with you to alleviate the pain, pressure and inflammation caused by your stenosis or myelopathy.
  • Personalized therapy plans. Our therapeutic and nonsurgical options provide effective treatments without having surgery. We develop a personalized treatment plan that includes medication and/or injections with physical therapy. We also offer non-traditional options like acupuncture for interested patients.


Spinal stenosis treatment often involves very effective nonsurgical options, with surgery as a last option. With myelopathy, surgery is often necessary at the beginning.


Your doctor will order one or more of the following tests to diagnose your condition:

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