Neck pain, tingling sensations in your arms, and poor balance when walking are some of the common symptoms of cervical stenosis. Unfortunately, for many people, these symptoms don’t improve over time. In fact, they usually worsen.
At Premier Spine Institute, our board-certified orthopaedic surgeon Bonaventure Ngu, MD, specializes in conditions that cause neck and back pain, such as cervical stenosis. In this blog, Dr. Ngu discusses what cervical stenosis is as well as the various treatment options.
Your spinal canal goes from your lower back to your neck. If there’s not enough room in your spinal canal for your spinal cord to pass, then you have what’s referred to as spinal stenosis, or, a narrowing of the spinal canal. There are two main types of spinal stenosis: cervical stenosis, which deals with the neck region, and lumbar stenosis, which deals with the lower back.
Cervical stenosis refers to a lack of space in the spinal canal located in your cervical spine, or neck. Though some people are born with a narrow spinal canal, cervical stenosis most often develops due to degenerative changes that occur in your spine as you get older. In most cases, the narrowing of your cervical spine is caused by arthritis, herniated discs, or thickening of the ligaments that hold your vertebrae in place.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people diagnosed with spinal stenosis are over age 50.
It’s not unusual for people to have cervical stenosis and not know it until they get an X-ray or MRI to evaluate some other health issue. That’s because cervical stenosis doesn’t always have symptoms.
However, not everyone is so fortunate. The narrowing of your cervical canal may press on your spinal cord or nerve roots, resulting in myelopathy (damaged spinal cord) or radiculopathy (pinched nerve root). When this happens, you may experience a range of symptoms, such as:
These symptoms usually develop gradually and worsen over time. You should seek medical care for your cervical stenosis as soon as you experience symptoms, which may help prevent or slow down the progressive nature of the spinal condition.
When it comes to cervical stenosis and neck pain, we always start with the least invasive treatments to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Initially, we may recommend physical therapy, massage therapy, antispasmodic medications, and antidepressants. We may also offer steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
If your symptoms continue despite conservative treatments, or they get worse, we may recommend surgical intervention to create space within your spinal canal. Surgical options for cervical stenosis may include:
Many people experience improvement in their symptoms after cervical stenosis surgery.
To learn more about cervical stenosis treatment options, book an appointment online or over the phone with Premier Spine Institute today.