Benjamin R. Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Spinal Surgeon & Neurosurgeon located in Garden City, NY
Spinal stenosis develops gradually as age-related degeneration in your spine narrows the spinal canal, pinches your nerves, and causes ongoing back or neck pain. Benjamin Cohen, MD, explores all possible nonsurgical treatments first, recommending minimally invasive spine surgery when conservative therapies fail to relieve your symptoms. To schedule an appointment for a thorough evaluation, call the office in Garden City, New York, or use the online booking system.
What is spinal stenosis?
The bundle of nerves that forms your spinal cord travels through the spinal canal, a protected space formed by an opening in the center of each vertebra. When you have spinal stenosis, the spinal canal narrows, which in turn compresses one or more nerves.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is caused by several conditions that develop over years of degenerative changes, such as:
- Herniated disc
- Bone spurs
- Thickened ligaments
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)
These conditions narrow the spinal canal by protruding into the canal. For example, the bulge of a herniated disc or excessive bone growth can extend into the canal and push against nerves.
What symptoms develop due to spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis most often develops in your lower back, but it can also occur in your neck. In addition to experiencing pain in those areas, it’s common to develop symptoms along the length of the affected nerve.
As the nerves compress, they become inflamed and irritated, leading to symptoms such as:
- Pain in the lower back or neck
- Muscle weakness in your legs or arms
- Leg pain or cramping
- Tingling, numbness, and pain radiating down your legs or arms
A rare but serious complication occurs when nerves at the base of the spinal cord, the cauda equina, become pinched. When that happens, you may develop bladder or bowel incontinence, loss of feeling in both legs, and severe low back pain.
How is spinal stenosis treated?
Your treatment begins with conservative options such as anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy or an exercise program that helps to strengthen your spine, improve movement, and reduce pain.
If your symptoms persist or worsen, Dr. Cohen may recommend surgery to decompress the nerves. As an experienced spinal surgeon, he often performs minimally invasive surgery to treat spinal stenosis, which means you have less bleeding, your muscles aren’t cut, and you recover more quickly compared with open surgery.
Dr. Cohen may perform one of several possible surgical procedures, depending on the underlying cause of your stenosis. Here are a few examples:
- Decompressive laminectomy, to remove the top of the vertebra and create more space
- Spinal fusion, to stabilize the spine by fusing two vertebrae together
- Discectomy, to remove or trim a herniated disc
- Foraminotomy, to enlarge the opening where the nerves leave your spine
If you develop back or neck pain, call Benjamin Cohen, MD, or book an appointment online.