When to Consider Surgery for Spinal Stenosis

Patrick Doherty, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon who is widely known in the medical world for his surgical skill and expertise. He directs our team’s commitment to patient-first care here at Yale Neurosurgery New London in New London, Connecticut.

Dr. Doherty also receives high praise for his pioneering work in developing the most conservative, minimally invasive treatments available for pain and immobility issues linked to chronic conditions such as spinal stenosis.

Learn what this talented specialist says about spinal stenosis and when he might recommend surgery for this sometimes debilitating condition.

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis occurs when normally open spaces within your spine become too narrow and restrict the area that houses your spinal column and major nerves. As stenosis worsens, the extremely sensitive nerves running through and exiting your spinal canal at various points can become irritated and inflamed.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Most often impacting the cervical spine (neck) or lower back (lumbar spine), spinal stenosis can cause varying degrees of back or neck pain as well as:

Stenosis involving your lumbar spine can also cause pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand or walk that typically lessens when you bend forward or sit. This action temporarily relieves compression of the affected nerves.

What causes spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is most often linked to age-related changes in the spine that may result in:

Injury to the spinal cord, structural conditions such as scoliosis, or genetically linked narrowing of the canal can also result in symptomatic stenosis.

When should I consider surgery for spinal stenosis?

Dr. Doherty recommends spine surgery based on the intensity and frequency of your symptoms and a thorough evaluation that helps identify the underlying cause of stenosis.

Before moving forward with surgery, he also considers your response to more conservative therapies, which may include:

When your symptoms are no longer tolerable or impact your ability to carry out routine activities, Dr. Doherty offers minimally invasive procedures, including robotic spine surgery, that provide stellar results without the long recovery time associated with traditional back surgery.

What types of minimally invasive surgery are available for spinal stenosis?

Depending on the underlying cause and extent of your spinal stenosis, Dr. Doherty may recommend:

By taking advantage of the advanced technology of robotic surgery, Dr. Doherty performs these intricate procedures with advanced precision that reduces surgical trauma to surrounding tissue, which is often an inevitable component of traditional neck surgery or “open” back surgery. Having robotic surgery reduces your postoperative pain and dramatically speeds healing.

For effective relief from spinal stenosis and other chronic pain issues, that may or may not include surgery, schedule a visit at Yale Neurosurgery New London today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Am I at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in older adults. There are steps you can take, however, to limit your risk of developing this painful and sometimes debilitating condition. Find out how from our specialty team.

What Is the Cervical Spine?

Wondering what makes the cervical spine different from the lumbar or thoracic spine? Even if the question never occurred to you, here’s what you need to know about the cervical section of your spine.

Correct Your Posture, Fix Your Neck Pain

Is it possible that poor posture is responsible for the neck pain that keeps you up at night? Yes. It may also be causing a host of other problems in your cervical spine. Here’s what you need to know about the many ways posture affects your neck.

You Don't Have to Live With Back Pain

Back pain is a common complaint that many individuals often put up with for as long as possible before seeing a specialist. But why live with pain when you don’t have to? Here’s what you need to know about your aching back and how we can help.

Can You Avoid Another Herniated Disc?

Have you experienced the pain, decreased mobility, and other troublesome symptoms associated with a herniated disc? Hoping to avoid a repeat? Our expert explains how to protect your back health.

The Link Between Smoking and Back Pain

You’ve probably heard that smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. Did you know that it can also make your back hurt? Our experts explain the connection between smoking and chronic back pain.