Spinal stenosis in the neck — causes and treatment

Spinal stenosis in the neck is a common source of chronic pain that is caused by a gradual narrowing of nerve pathways in the cervical (upper) spine. This condition can be caused by any number of degenerative spine conditions, including herniated discs and osteoarthritis. Patients are usually diagnosed with spinal stenosis in the neck after experiencing symptoms related to a compressed nerve, including local pain and tingling or numbness in the extremities.

Treatment for spinal stenosis is normally first attempted conservatively with nonsurgical techniques. Spinal stenosis surgery is usually a last resort for patients whose symptoms have not responded to a full course of more basic treatment.

What causes spinal stenosis?

As we age, the spinal anatomy naturally begins to deteriorate through a combination of everyday wear and loss of water and protein content. This breakdown is more common in the cervical and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine because these areas are both extremely flexible and facilitate a wide range of movements, such as bending at the waist, twisting in place or turning the head.

Spinal stenosis in the neck occurs when a degenerative spine condition, like a herniated disc or a bone spur, displaces anatomy and narrows the spinal canal or a nerve root exit.

Treatment for spinal stenosis in the neck

If a patient is experiencing pain as a result of spinal stenosis in the neck, a variety of conservative, nonsurgical treatments will typically first be recommended upon diagnosis. These treatments are designed to take pressure off of the neck, improve range of motion and relieve pain. Some of the most commonly suggested treatments for spinal stenosis include:

  • Low-impact exercises or physical therapy
  • Stretching techniques to maintain flexibility in the neck
  • Alternating hot and cold compresses
  • Medication
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Massage

When to consider surgery

Many patients are reluctant to undergo spine surgery due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open neck procedures. At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

Contact us today to learn more and to request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.

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