Lower Back Pain Specialist

The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD

Neurosurgeon located in Santa Monica, CA & Encino, CA

Lower back pain affects 75-85% of Americans at some point in their life. For many, it resolves in a few months, but for about 10% of them, lower back pain becomes a chronic problem. When your back pain persists, Brian Gantwerker, MD, at The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles can help. As an expert neurosurgeon, Dr. Gantwerker performs several types of surgery that target and eliminate the underlying cause of your pain. To learn more about your surgical options, call either the Santa Monica or Encino, California, office or book an appointment online.

Lower Back Pain Q & A

What causes lower back pain?

Your lower back, or lumbar spine, supports the weight of your body, while also giving you the flexibility to bend and twist — a combination that makes it vulnerable to pain-causing injuries and spine problems.

Lower back pain is frequently the result of sprains and strains from daily activities like lifting a heavy object or participating in sports.

Beyond damage to your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, conditions that commonly cause lower back pain include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Compression fracture
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)
  • Lumbar radiculopathy (compressed nerves)


These conditions develop over time as discs naturally dehydrate and wear-and-tear on your lower back leads to degenerative changes.

Will I experience symptoms other than pain?

Lower back pain ranges from a mild, dull pain to a sharp, stabbing, debilitating pain. You may also develop other symptoms if your pain is due to a compressed nerve. When a nerve is pinched, pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness may radiate to your legs and feet.

How do you treat lower back pain?

Conservative measures are the first line of treatment for lower back pain. This type of treatment may include physical therapy or steroid injections, both of which relieve inflammation and pain. When you’ve tried nonsurgical options for six months to a year and still have pain or limited movement, it may be time to consider surgery.

The type of surgery you need depends on the underlying cause of your lower back pain. Here are a few examples of surgical procedures to relieve lower back pain:

Motion preservation surgery

Dr. Gantwerker specializes in artificial disc replacement. By replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc, he preserves your lower back movement while relieving your pain. You may also be a candidate for other surgical options such as an interspinous process spacer, which maintains space between vertebrae, decompresses nerves, and preserves movement.

Lumbar decompression

This surgery relieves pain from pinched nerves caused by problems such as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc. The procedure often involves removing part of the vertebra or enlarging openings that nerves use to enter and exit the spine.

Lumbar fusion

A lumbar fusion is often performed following decompression surgery. Two adjoining vertebrae are fused together to stabilize the spine and alleviate ongoing pain. This fusion, though, stops movement between the affected vertebrae.  Sometimes, a fusion is necessary if a patient has slippage of the spine, but each patient’s situation is unique. Together, you and Dr. Gantwerker can discuss the options.

If you suffer from lower back pain and need surgery, call The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles or book an appointment online.