Does Cymbalta help spinal stenosis? (+5 treatment options)

In this article, we will discuss the use of Cymbalta in managing the pain associated with spinal stenosis. We will also discuss the research studies linking the use of Cymbalta and spinal stenosis as well as the limitations of Cymbalta in managing spinal stenosis. Additionally, we will discuss the alternatives to Cymbalta for managing spinal stenosis.

Does Cymbalta help spinal stenosis?

Cymbalta does not help with spinal stenosis. However, Cymbalta may help in reducing the pain associated with spinal stenosis, it is not used as a first-line treatment for spinal stenosis. It is commonly used for conditions like depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia.

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication that works by interfering with the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. By increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters, Cymbalta helps in the regulation of mood and alleviation of various symtoms of mental disorders (1).

 In specific cases where neuropathic pain is a significant component of spinal stenosis symptoms, medications like Cymbalta may be considered to reduce pain. Cymbalta is sometimes used to manage chronic pain conditions, including those associated with lower back pain and cervical spinal surgery. 

What does research suggest?

In a research study, Cymbalta was utilized in managing pain associated with surgery for spinal stenosis. The medication was well-tolerated by patients, initiated at a minimal dose, and gradually increased to 60mg before the surgery. The treatment was sustained until one week after the operation, demonstrating its effectiveness (2).

These research findings suggest the role of Cymbalta in managing pain after spinal stenosis surgery, however, there is no research evidence directly linking the use of Cymbalta for treating spinal stenosis. 

What are the limitations of Cymbalta in treating spinal stenosis?

While Cymbalta is sometimes used to manage chronic pain, including those associated with nerve compression, it has limitations in treating spinal stenosis. Its effectiveness in managing spinal stenosis-related pain is limited for several reasons such as:

  • The mechanism of action of Cymbalta is not specifically tailored to address the physical compression of nerves in the spine, which is a characteristic feature of spinal stenosis. 
  • Cymbalta may help manage associated pain, but it does not address the structural issue causing the compression during spinal stenosis.
  • Individuals with spinal stenosis may respond differently to medications. While some may experience relief, others may find minimal or no benefit from Cymbalta for their specific symptoms.

What are the approved treatment strategies for spinal stenosis?

The approved treatment strategies for spinal stenosis typically include a combination of pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches, tailored to the severity of symptoms and individual patient factors. Pharmacological intervention uses medications for the management of spinal stenosis and its associated symptoms. These medications may include:

  • analgesics such as paracetamol, diclofenac, naproxen (for pain management) 
  • muscle relaxants such as tizanidine (for managing muscle spasms)
  • gabapentin (for neuropathic pain)
  • corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation)
  • opioids (for severe pain)

These medications are designed to alleviate discomfort, address severe pain, and target muscle spasms associated with spinal stenosis. It’s essential to understand that while these medications can offer symptomatic relief for spinal stenosis symptoms, they do not address the underlying structural problem causing the compression.

Additionally, the long-term use of specific medications, particularly opioids, necessitates a thoughtful evaluation of potential risks and benefits. In cases of severe symptoms that are unresponsive to conventional treatments, surgical interventions may be considered as an alternative.

What are the non-pharmacological approaches for managing spinal stenosis? 

There are several non-pharmacological approaches that can help manage spinal stenosis and its associated symptoms. These may include:

  • Exercises that are tailored to enhance suppleness, strengthen core muscles, and promote overall movement of muscles. These activities can be effective in managing symptoms.


  • The use of supportive devices like braces and walkers can reduce the spinal load and help improve movement.


  • Strategic avoidance of activities that worsen symptoms, such as extended periods of standing or sitting, coupled with adjustments to daily routines, plays a crucial role in managing symptoms.


  • Surgical interventions may be necessary in some cases. Procedures involving the reduction of pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, such as decompressive surgeries, are undertaken. Additionally, in specific cases, spinal fusion surgery is recommended. 

In my opinion, Cymbalta is not a suitable choice of drug for managing spinal stenosis. It may help in reducing the pain associated with this condition but overall Cymbalta does not improve the quality of life of patients with spinal stenosis.  

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Dhaliwal JS, Spurling BC, Molla M. Duloxetine. 2023 May 29. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31747213.


Govil N, Parag K, Arora P, Khandelwal H, Singh A; Ruchi. Perioperative duloxetine as part of a multimodal analgesia regime reduces postoperative pain in lumbar canal stenosis surgery: a randomized, triple blind, and placebo-controlled trial. Korean J Pain. 2020 Jan 1;33(1):40-47. doi: 10.3344/kjp.2020.33.1.40. PMID: 31888316; PMCID: PMC6944370.

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