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What is Spinal Stenosis / Cervical Stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of a part of the vertebral column that encompasses the spinal cord. This has the potential to put pressure on the spinal cord. Stenosis can also occur in the space through which offshoots from the spinal cord of nerve endings exit the vertebral column. This can place pressure on the nerve endings leading to the extremities. Spinal Stenosis may occur either in the neck or low back, called Cervical Stenosis or Lumbar Stenosis. When this condition is present in the cervical spine, it is considered more critical than when it occurs in the lumbar spine because the cervical spine is smaller and there is greater chance of compression of the spinal cord.

When diagnosed with Cervical Stenosis, physicians will often specify the diagnosis as with or without myelopathy. Myelopathy means that the spinal cord is being compressed and it needs to be decompressed as soon as possible. When Cervical Stenosis presents with Myelopathy, this is a very serious condition and will likely require surgical intervention.

What Causes Spinal Stenosis / Cervical Stenosis?

The causes of spinal stenosis are many and varied. A thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis are critical in planning the best treatment strategy for this condition. Some of the causes that can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal are:

  • Age-related changes
  • Disc degeneration leading to a collapse of intervertebral disc height or hardening of the disc
  • Bone spurs
  • Arthritic changes
  • Thickening of ligaments
  • Previous fracture of the spinal column
  • Certain medical condition such as Paget’s Disease which is a chronic condition that causes bones to grow larger and become weaker than normal
  • Trauma
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Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis / Cervical Stenosis

The symptoms of Cervical Stenosis will be different whether it is diagnosed as with or without myelopathy. The symptoms of Cervical Stenosis without Myelopathy are:

  • Neck pain
  • Tingling, numbness, and weakness in arms, hands, and fingers
  • Loss of range of motion in neck

The symptoms of Cervical Stenosis WITH Myelopathy (indication that the spinal cord is being compressed) are more severe and are a cause for seeking immediate medical attention:

  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty walking and maintaining balance
  • Clumsiness in hands and frequently dropping things
  • Changes in fine motor coordination such as difficulty buttoning a shirt
  • Bowel and bladder disturbances in severe cases
If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.

Treatments for Spinal Stenosis / Cervical Stenosis

Treatment for Cervical Stenosis that presents with myelopathy requires immediate medical attention. Surgical decompression of the spinal cord will often be required in order to prevent the compression on the spinal cord from progressing any further and hopefully reversing any loss of function that was caused by compression on the cord. Two operations that may be considered in order to relieve compression on the spinal cord are a Laminectomy and Laminoplasty. Both of the procedures involve removal of part of the vertebrae.

In cases of Cervical Stenosis without myelopathy, conservative measures are generally all that will be needed. These may include a course of physical therapy, steroid injections, wearing a soft cervical collar for a time, and learning the movements to avoid that will exacerbate the problem.

asian woman holding hand and touching skin around cervical spine

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Disclaimer: Please note all medical information contained within this website should never be interpreted as a diagnosis or recommendation of treatment. If a diagnosis is needed, contact Dr. Burke Orthopedics for a personalized consultation. Information shared in testimonials and reviews are specific to that particular patient and may not be representative of the experience of others.