Cervical canal stenosis — overview

Cervical canal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal canal in the cervical (upper) region of the spine, is a common condition. The upper spine is responsible for supporting and moving the head while protecting the spinal cord as it travels from the brain out to the body. With age and everyday movement, the parts of the spine — such as the discs and joints — slowly begin to wear down. This can cause inflammation and displacement that narrows the already tight nerve pathways in the spinal column.

This narrowing, called spinal stenosis, results in pain and other symptoms if enough pressure is placed on spinal nerves. Canal stenosis is when this happens to the spinal canal, which is the passageway formed by arches at the back of each vertebrae to protect the spinal cord.

Cervical canal stenosis symptoms, such as shooting pain, tingling and numbness in the neck, shoulders and arms, can be very difficult. Sitting at your desk, driving, sleeping or even being able to relax after a long day can all be disrupted. If this condition is affecting you, learning more about the full range of treatment options can help you and your doctor develop a care plan with the best chance of returning you to the quality of life you deserve.

Treatment options

When cervical spinal canal stenosis is diagnosed, symptoms can usually be treated with conservative methods. The goal of this type of treatment is to relieve pain and restore your range of motion. Common doctor-recommended methods include:

  • Stretching
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory or pain medication

Lifestyle factors like weight, posture, activity level, nutrition and tobacco use can also contribute to cervical canal stenosis, so a treatment plan will usually address these issues if necessary. Most doctors will usually wait for a period of weeks to months to monitor the progress of the condition before exploring surgery.

Minimally invasive alternatives

If a full course of conservative treatment has not improved symptoms and surgical treatment has been recommended, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open back surgery and the large incision, overnight hospitalization and long, often painful, recovery period that can come with it. Our board-certified surgeons+ can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, sparing important supporting muscles and leading to an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication than traditional open spine surgery.

To find out if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review.*