What is canal stenosis in the cervical spine?

Canal stenosis in the cervical spine is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal in the cervical (upper) region of the spine begins to narrow. This is very often caused by degenerative spine conditions like bulging discs or arthritis that can constrict the central spinal canal and potentially cause debilitating symptoms.

What does cervical canal stenosis feel like?

Canal stenosis does not always lead to symptoms unless the narrowing is severe enough to cause compression of the spinal cord or a nerve root. In these cases patients may experience certain uncomfortable sensations in the upper body. However symptoms of spinal cord compression, called myelopathy, in the cervical region can affect the lower body too. Patients may report:

  • Pain in the upper neck, back or shoulders
  • Pain that radiates through the arms or hands
  • Tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the extremities
  • Pain and muscle weakness in the legs caused by spinal cord compression in the upper spine

Diagnosis and treatment

Patients with the above symptoms are usually diagnosed with cervical canal stenosis after their doctor performs an evaluation consisting of a review of your medical history, a physical examination and diagnostic testing such as taking an MRI or CT scan.

Upon diagnosing canal stenosis as the source of symptoms, doctors will often recommend management with conservative treatments like over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes such as posture improvement or a weight-loss plan. Patients with persistent symptoms, however, may eventually be recommended to consider surgery if nonsurgical treatments don’t bring lasting relief.

Surgery for canal stenosis in the cervical spine

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery that can help patients with cervical canal stenosis who have exhausted conservative treatment options. Our outpatient procedures are performed using a less than 1-inch incision and offer a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine procedures.

If you’ve been diagnosed with canal stenosis and have exhausted conservative treatments, reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.