For years, Megan suffered from the pain of daily migraines, sometimes having two migraines in a single day. Dr. Brian Snyder, NSPC neurosurgeon specializing in Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery, explains how occipital nerve stimulation relieved her suffering and restored her life. Within just 24 hours of her treatment, “it was apparent that this was going to be a life-altering therapy for...Megan”.
Occipital Nerve Stimulation Gave This Patient a Migraine-Free Life
Retiree Mr. Jorma Kouki suffered from a subacute subdural hematoma in March 2015. After recovery from surgery by Dr. Robert Holtzman, he ran the Long Island Half Marathon in 2:05. He's now in training for the 2017 New York Marathon.
From Subdural Hematoma Surgery to the New York Marathon
“I started experiencing shocks up and down my arms. Often it would happen after I worked out or sometimes when I was walking. It started out every once in a while and then became more frequent. It was scary! So I started doing research and went to see different doctors to see what was wrong.” As 53-year-old, Walter Valentine of Smithtown, soon found out, what he was experiencing was textbook symptoms of spinal stenosis, which hundreds of thousands of people needlessly struggle with every day. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing in the spine either at the center, the canals where nerves branch out, or in the spaces between vertebrae. The constriction puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves causing pain and other uncomfortable sensations, including numbness, weakness, cramping, and pain in the arms or legs. Fortunately Walter found William J. Sonstein, M.D., F.A.C.S., of NSPC. Dr. Sonstein is a board-certified neurosurgeon with more than two decades of experience treating spinal stenosis with a simple two-hour surgical procedure, which helps sufferers live productive, pain-free lives. “I was very comfortable with Dr. Sonstein. He seemed like a regular guy. And I just liked his bedside manner. It was easy to see that he understood my situation and he had lots of experience with this type of surgery and my condition,” said Walter. For Walter, Dr. Sonstein performed an anterior cervical diskectomy. “We made a small incision through the front of his neck in a crease so it’s cosmetically more appealing,” explained Dr. Sonstein. “We removed the whole disk to alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord and we decompressed the nerves at the same time. Then a small bone was placed to keep the alignment and disk height, and we attached a little plate so the alignment is maintained.” Though many patients, like Walter, often have no pain and feel well enough to leave the hospital right after surgery, Dr. Sonstein’s patients usually go home the next day.
Don’t Live with a Pain in Your Neck or Back
Larry Monaco lived with chronic back pain and weakness in his legs. When pain consultants could not offer him any more relief, Larry was referred to Dr. Zachariah M. George, a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in complex spinal issues and minimally invasive surgery. After an initial consultation with Dr. George, Dr. Madan K. Raj was brought in to collaborate on Larry’s care. Dr. Raj is a board certified physiatrist specializing in pain management and physical medicine and rehabilitation. The doctors recommended that Larry try injections first, before looking into surgical options. Larry had been considering surgery to correct the damaged discs in his back. “They told me if they pin the discs and then put a rod in where the other ones are pushing out, I would lose a lot of mobility,” he said. With a lot more life to live and managing a full-time job, Larry was grateful for any surgery-free options to help relieve his chronic back pain. The injections allowed Larry to continue working and he says the treatments exceeded his expectations. “The first two injections were in the hip. The first one took the numbness out of my leg and gave me strength back. The second one took all the numbness out from the knee down to the ankle, and it rejuvenated me.” The doctors at NSPC are kind and genuine. “Dr. George is a nice guy and seemed down-to-earth. Dr. Raj is a wiz with those injections!”
Dr. George and Dr. Raj gave him a shot of relief and a pain-free road to recovery.
Paul Yovino had a wonderful pain management experience with Madan K. Raj, M.D., and a successful spinal fusion with William J. Sonstein, M.D., F.A.C.S. Epidural injections and spinal surgery helped Paul manage his back pain. Dr. Raj, a board certified interventional physiatrist, specializes in advanced pain management techniques and physical medicine and rehabilitation. He treats spinal conditions without surgery, practicing musculoskeletal medicine. “He’s one of the best doctors that I have ever gone to, as far as epidural injections. He’s a pleasant person to be around,” Paul said. Paul also spoke highly of the other staff. “The staff, Divina and Lisa, are absolutely the best. Sometimes, they have to tell me to stop laughing before they give me the injection. It’s almost like it’s fun to go and see them and get the shot.” Epidural injections for pain management were not as bad as Paul once thought. “The most you’re going to feel with Dr. Raj is a little pinch. He’ll work you right through it, and before you know it, you’re done,” he explained. When Paul later consulted Dr. Sonstein, he found two fractures that other doctors missed. “He saw something that no one else saw. I went for many MRIs for this condition, and he said, “Forget the MRIs. I want an x-ray of you. No one ever asked me for an X-ray before,” he said. Dr. Sonstein is a Board-Certified Diplomate, American Board of Neurosurgery. His interests include complex and minimally invasive spinal surgery, and he is Chief of Neurosurgery at LIJ North Shore University Hospital in Plainview. Paul is grateful to Dr. Sonstein for his successful spinal fusion. “Dr. Sonstein is an excellent neurosurgeon,” he said.
Dr. Raj, Dr. Sonstein: Best Pain Management Injections, Spinal Surgery
Brain tumors can happen to anyone, even an athletic man like Rick Box, who ran 2.5 miles every morning and worked out in preparation for marathons. Rick’s dentist noticed that he appeared thin in the face, and Rick began to experience grainy vision. When the ophthalmologist found nothing, he proceeded to his primary doctor, leading to the CT scan and brain biopsy that diagnosed the glioblastoma. Rick was offered a clinical trial, but he had trouble finding a surgeon to do the brain tumor resection. “The surgeon that did the biopsy said he would not do the resection because he was afraid he would kill me, paralyze me, put me in a coma, make me blind, lose my speech, and so forth. He thought it was too risky where it was,” Rick explained. “My wife… cornered him against the door: ‘You have to come up with a better solution.’ Luckily, he came up with Dr. Lee Tessler with the Long Island Brain Tumor Center,” he added. Lee Eric Tessler, M.D ., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.N.S., is the executive director of Long Island Brain Tumor Center and a partner at NSPC. He is a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumors, meningiomas, stereotactic surgery, and radiosurgery. Jai Grewal, M.D., is a board certified neuro-oncologist who treats patients with primary and metastatic tumors of the brain and spine, such as glioblastoma, astrocytoma, oliodendroglioma, ependymoma, meningioma, and lymphoma. His multifaceted treatment approach includes standard and experimental chemotherapy, radiation, and advanced surgical techniques. Rick’s tumor resection surgery with Dr. Tessler and Dr. Grewal involved over 50 staples and was complex. Rick praised the interest and dedication of the staff as they assisted him: “It’s an amazing crew they have there. They all came to meet me. They wanted to see how strong I was and what sort of faculties I was missing.” Rick lost peripheral vision in both eyes and can no longer drive, but he has otherwise made a full recovery. He credited “the skill of the surgeon” in his recovery.
Dr. Tessler and Dr. Grewal Perform Risky, Successful Brain Tumor Resection Surgery
Frank D’Aurio had chronic pain in his shoulder and hand, as well as nerve damage. When an MRI showed four herniated discs, Frank consulted Artem Y. Vaynman, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., at NSPC. Several of Frank’s family members are medical professionals, and one is a chiropractor named Michael. “[Michael] said, ‘Frankie, I’ve been telling people not to go to surgery for 35 years. Run to Dr. Vaynman and get on his list for surgery, because you must have surgery.” As a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in complex and minimally invasive spinal surgery, Dr. Vaynman sees patients at NSPC with various conditions, including herniated discs, compression fractures, spinal cord injuries, and many others. He is the co-chief of spine surgery at Mercy Medical Center. Frank had two surgery sessions on two separate days: one for the front and one for the back. To recover, Frank spent several weeks in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility. He says he is very satisfied with his recovery: “The pain is gone, and that is wonderful. … I’m back to swimming, I’m going to talk to the good doctor about some autumn golf, … I’m doing very well.” Frank shares his advice for chronic pain sufferers considering spinal surgery: “From personal experience, I would tell people, if they suffered from what I suffered from, they know the pain, don’t prolong it.”
Dr. Vaynman Performs Spinal Fusion On Four Herniated Discs
A fall in Marcella Dowling's backyard brought her to her chiropractor and then to Artem Y. Vaynman, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., for spinal surgery. Dr. Vaynman successfully removed and replaced several discs in Marcella’s back, leaving her pain free and restoring her ability to walk and drive. Dr. Vaynman is a board certified neurosurgeon who treats many conditions at NSPC, including compression fractures, spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, degenerative scoliosis, and many other causes of back pain. He is the co-chief of spine surgery at Mercy Medical Center, specializing in complex and minimally invasive spinal surgery. “I was working at school part time, and one day, I just couldn’t walk anymore. My leg was bothering me, I continued with my treatments, and nothing helped,” Marcella says. Her primary doctor referred her to a back surgeon. An MRI showed that Marcella would need four discs removed/replaced, and Dr. Vaynman informed her that she would need spinal surgery in order to walk again. “I was on the couch for a month. I went into the hospital,” Marcella says. Marcella had two back surgeries in one week, and she describes her surgeries and recovery: “It was a wonderful experience, I have to say. I was so worried about this hospital experience, but … the most wonderful thing was that I never really experienced pain once I had the surgery.” Following surgery, Marcella remained in the hospital for ten days and spent three weeks in a rehabilitation facility. “My only problem was that I had a problem walking, and I have a numbness in my left leg. Dr. Vaynman said ‘Your recovery will be from seven months to a year’ and they are hoping that the nerves will regenerate,” Marcella says. Marcella’s two surgeries greatly improved her condition, and she continued physical therapy as an out-patient. “I’m pain-free, and as time progresses, I’m getting a little better. I’m able to walk without a cane now, and I’m driving, and just experiencing life again,” Marcella says.
Dr. Vaynman Restores Marcella Dowling’s Ability To Walk, Pain Free
Angela Chowayou went to see Artem Y. Vaynman, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., with terrible pain and hardly able to stand. “Due to my arthritis, my spine kept twisting. It got so bad that I couldn’t even stand up for a minute or even walk for 30 seconds,” says Angela. As a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in complex and minimally invasive spinal surgery, Dr. Vaynman treats many conditions including degenerative scoliosis, compression fractures, spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, and many other causes of back pain. He is the co-chief of spine surgery at Mercy Medical Center, and patients can make an appointment with him at NSPC. In 2013, Angela’s successful scoliosis surgery with Dr. Vaynman straightened her spine and eliminated her pain. Angela describes her recovery: “The amazing thing about this whole surgery, because I suffered from pain for so long, since I had the surgery, I have no pain.” Neither the incision nor the physical therapy left her in pain, she says. Angela is very happy with the staff at NSPC. “All the staff is wonderful, I cannot complain, especially Liz. She was always there for me,” she says. Angela shares her advice for back pain sufferers considering an appointment with a back surgeon: “When people hear going to a neurosurgeon, they think surgery. It’s not only surgery, but go and see what he can do for you. He’s not only an excellent surgeon, but he is a nice person himself.”
Dr. Vaynman’s Scoliosis Surgery Leaves Angela Pain Free