Lower back pain sufferers number in the millions, unfortunately. According to one study cited by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a staggering one quarter of adults in the United States experienced it in the course of the three months prior to when the group surveyed was questioned.
Degenerative back pain stems from many conditions, and that’s your doctor’s first job — to find the source, as that’s the key to creating a customized treatment plan.
Highly skilled spinal surgeon Dr. Benjamin Cohen diagnoses and treats a wide range of painful back conditions, from scoliosis and disc degeneration to fractures and spinal stenosis. He sees his role as a partner in your health care, so he not only discusses and explains, he also listens.
Finding the root of your back pain
Education is an important component of Dr. Cohen’s care. He wants to be “on the same page” with you as you both travel the path to pain-free wellness and freedom of movement together.
That said, he must deduce, through many investigatory means, all the possible causes of your back pain. Even though intermittent or chronic pain is common to the vast majority of conditions he treats, there are other symptoms he searches for that often distinguish one condition from another.
Could your back pain be caused by spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis occurs when your spinal canal narrows, unfortunately as a result of age-related degeneration caused by osteoarthritis. This lack of space puts pressure on your spinal nerves, and it can emerge either in your lower back (lumbar stenosis) or your neck (cervical stenosis).
If you do have spinal stenosis, Dr. Cohen may find that it’s related to any one of a number of conditions, including a herniated disc, slipped disc, bone spurs, or degenerative disc disease.
Pain can follow, but not always, which is why diagnosing spinal stenosis can be a challenge. Sometimes you can have spinal stenosis and be asymptomatic. This is worrisome because damage is being done, and then when spinal degradation gets to a certain point, you do feel it, and it’s definitely not good.
Dr. Cohen always alerts patients to the fact that spinal stenosis shows itself in other ways, too, that you may not have heard of but are nevertheless important to be aware of:
- Noticeable weakness in your arms, legs, or both
- Leg and arm tingling
- Leg pain
- Leg cramping
- Loss of feeling in your legs or arms
- Foot pain and cramping
The leg pain and cramping that’s a byproduct of spinal stenosis can rear up especially when you walk or stand for a long time.
Who knew that a spinal issue could have such far-reaching effects and cause so much discomfort in your arms and legs? This family of symptoms highlights the interconnected nature of your spine and limbs, and reminds us of how they work in concert to keep you upright and mobile.
It’s important to seek treatment in a timely manner, because potentially serious complications can occur, including worsening pain, balance issues, reduced strength, alarming numbness, and in extreme cases, even incontinence and paralysis.
If I’m diagnosed with spinal stenosis, what treatments are available to me?
Despite these grim warnings, there are safe treatments that can eradicate your spinal stenosis pain and discomfort, whether you’re experiencing one symptom or many.
Dr. Cohen may recommend anti-inflammatory medication or steroid injections initially to treat your spinal stenosis. He may also complement those efforts with a course of physical therapy or specific spine strengthening exercises that both bring you pain relief and allow you to move more freely.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s symptoms are alleviated by these measures, and that’s when Dr. Cohen speaks to you about safe, minimally invasive surgical options.
It might be that your nerves need to be decompressed in a more definitive, permanent way. He chooses the best option for you based on the particulars of your condition, but he performs these procedures and more:
- Foraminotomy opens up the area where your nerves exit your spine
- Spinal fusion braces your spine after Dr. Cohen connects two vertebrae
- Decompressive laminectomy involves Dr. Cohen opening up space by taking out the top of your vertebrae
- Discectomy is when Dr. Cohen shaves some material from your herniated disc or removes it altogether
Relief is all about creating enough room for your spinal cord and nerves.
The beauty of high tech, computer-assisted, minimally invasive surgery is that since only small incisions are made and minute instruments used, your healing is faster and less painful. Your body simply experiences less trauma overall.
Dr. Cohen’s years of experience as a spinal surgeon should reassure you about his expertise in performing all of these procedures. His goal is simple: to relieve your pain and restore your quality of life, despite a diagnosis of spinal stenosis.
Call our office today at 516-231-2849 to schedule an in-office or telemedicine appointment, or use our convenient online booking tool.