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What to Do About Spinal Stenosis

What to Do About Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal canal — is almost inevitable as you age. As all body parts do, your spine degenerates over time, its tissues thicken, and the bones compress. Not everyone experiences spinal stenosis to the same degree, though.

Dr. Jay M. Shah, our double-board certified specialist at SamWell Institute for Pain Management, is one of the country’s foremost experts on diagnosing and treating spinal stenosis and helping people overcome pain and debilitating symptoms. Here, he explains the various treatments he offers at our two locations in Livingston and Colonia, New Jersey. 

How we treat spinal stenosis

It's possible to have spinal stenosis but experience no symptoms at all. But if the structures in your narrowing spine touch or compress nearby nerves, you’re bound to feel back pain, weakness, tingling, burning, numbness, balance problems, and/or muscle cramps. That’s when it’s time to seek Dr. Shah’s help.

Depending on the severity of your spinal stenosis symptoms and the underlying cause, Dr. Shah provides a wide range of treatment options.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Although it sounds simple, over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications may be all you need to resolve your spinal stenosis symptoms. 

Physical therapy

Although spinal stenosis can occur in your neck, it’s most common in the lower back, where it limits mobility, triggers pain, and radiates symptoms to your legs. Through physical therapy, we can improve your range of motion, relieve the compression on your nerves, strengthen your core’s supporting muscles, correct your posture and gait, and improve your balance. 

Lifestyle changes

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight can alleviate the pressure on your spine and relieve your spinal stenosis symptoms. Better nutrition also supports the healing process.

If you smoke, we encourage you to quit, as the chemicals in tobacco constrict your blood vessels and reduce the oxygen to your spine, hindering the healing process.


When pain management is your goal, Dr. Shah may recommend injection therapy. Depending on the location of the affected nerve, he uses several treatments, including:

These injections reduce inflammation and block the pain signals between your nerves and brain.

Lumbar endoscopic rhizotomy

Another way to stop the pain signals from your nerves is to apply heat. Dr. Shah performs lumbar endoscopic rhizotomy, a fancy name for nerve ablation. In this minimally invasive procedure, he uses an endoscope to locate the precise nerve that’s causing you trouble and sends radiofrequency energy through the instrument to target and gently heat the nerve tissue. 

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS)

Spinal cord stimulation is a game-changer for many people suffering from spinal stenosis and prior lumbar surgery that hasn’t responded well to other treatments. In this procedure, Dr. Shah places small electrical leads into your spinal space near the nerve or nerves causing your chronic pain. The leads connect to a small external device that allows you to remotely control the low-voltage currents that disrupt the pain signals between your nerves and your brain.

After a week-long trial period, you and Dr. Shah discuss the results, and if you experience at least 50% pain relief, he schedules a time to implant the device permanently under the skin of your upper buttock or abdomen.

Minimally invasive lumbar decompression (mild®)

Patented by Vertos Medical, the MILD procedure enables Dr. Shah to use fluoroscopic guidance to view your spine without making a large incision like in open surgery. You also don’t need to go under general anesthesia; only a local anesthetic is required to numb your back and allow Dr. Shah to perform the treatment. 

Once his tools have reached the precise location of your narrowed spine, he removes the portion of your vertebra that’s crowding your spinal canal. You can get up and walk immediately after the MILD procedure and go home the same day.

Vertiflex Superion Procedure 

If compressed vertebrae are the culprits behind your spinal stenosis, Dr. Shah may recommend an advanced procedure called VertiFlex™ Superion™. In this minimally invasive treatment, Dr. Shah inserts an H-shaped device between the compressed vertebrae and expands it to relieve the pressure from your spinal cord and nerves. 

Although these surgical procedures are minimally invasive, they’re reserved for patients who haven’t responded well to more conservative treatments and are in otherwise good health.

To learn which treatment is best for your spinal stenosis, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shah by booking online or calling us at 732-276-2494. 

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