Spinal Stenosis Specialist

David Newell, MD

Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Bellevue, WA

Spinal stenosis most commonly develops as you get older due to degenerative changes in your spine. While noninvasive treatments are available, many patients don’t find long-lasting relief until they undergo surgery to repair the spinal canal. David Newell, MD has extensive experience performing minimally invasive procedures that effectively treat spinal stenosis. If you have questions about back pain or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call Dr. Newell’s Seattle office in Washington or use the online booking feature.

Spinal Stenosis

What is spinal stenosis?

Each vertebra in your spine has an opening in the center, creating a canal that surrounds and protects your spinal cord. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of this spinal canal. It may occur in your neck, where it’s called cervical spinal stenosis, or in your lower back, called lumbar spinal stenosis.

What causes spinal stenosis?

Although a small number of patients are born with spinal stenosis, it’s typically caused by degenerative conditions that develop over time, such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Bone spurs due to osteoarthritis
  • Thickened ligaments
  • Displaced vertebrae
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)

These conditions protrude into the canal, which narrows the space that’s usually reserved for your spinal nerves.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

You’ll begin to experience symptoms when the narrowed canal compresses the nerves. The pressure and resulting inflammation can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your lower back or neck
  • Numbness or tingling in your legs or arms
  • Muscle weakness in your legs or arms
  • Pain radiating down one or both legs
  • Leg pain or cramping

Without treatment, the symptoms gradually worsen over time. In severe cases of lumbar spinal stenosis, you may lose bowel or bladder control.

How is spinal stenosis treated?

The first line of treatment typically consists of oral medication or epidural injections to reduce your inflammation and alleviate pain. Dr. Newell may also prescribe physical therapy to reduce inflammation and improve your range of motion.

You may be a good candidate for surgery to alleviate your symptoms when:

  • Medication and physical therapy don’t help
  • Pain limits your daily activity
  • Progressive neurological problems develop
  • Standing or walking is difficult
  • Bowel or bladder function is affected

In these instances, Dr. Newell evaluates your overall health to be sure you can safely undergo surgery.

What are my surgical options for spinal stenosis?

Dr. Newell specializes in several types of surgery that effectively treat spinal stenosis by decompressing the nerves, including:

  • Laminectomy: bone is removed from the back side of the affected vertebrae
  • Spinal fusion: any damaged discs are removed and replaced with a bone graft to fuse two vertebrae
  • Laminotomy: bone is removed from the arch of the affected vertebrae

Dr. Newell performs minimally invasive spine surgery, which uses specialized tools inserted through very small incisions. When you have minimally invasive surgery, your risk of infection is lower, you have less postoperative pain, and your recovery time is shorter.

If you’re experiencing pain in your back, neck, or extremities, call David Newell, MD or book an appointment online.