Cervical spinal narrowing

Cervical spinal narrowing is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the cervical spine (neck). This is often caused by a degenerative spine condition, such as a bulging disc or bone spurs, but can also be caused by injury, such as whiplash. This condition, commonly referred to as cervical spinal stenosis, can result in chronic pain in the neck and radiating pain in the head, arms and jaw.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your physician to determine the cause of your pain and discomfort. If a degenerative spine condition is the source of your spinal stenosis, the symptoms will gradually worsen with time. Finding a treatment option for your spine condition should be a top priority to try to avoid spinal surgery. However, if your condition is caused by an injury, spinal surgery may be your best option, depending on the severity of the damage in your cervical spine. Your physician may order an MRI test or CT scan to accurately assess the damage in your spine and determine the best course of action to fit your needs and lifestyle.

Risks of conventional surgery for cervical spine narrowing

Some mild cases of cervical spinal stenosis can be accurately treated with conservative, nonsurgical methods of treatment, including stretches, chiropractic care and physical therapy. For more moderate or severe cases of spinal stenosis, a physician may recommend surgery for treatment.

If you are recommended to undergo spinal surgery to treat your cervical spinal stenosis, you should research all of your surgical options before moving forward with a treatment. You may find that there are certain risks associated with traditional open back surgery, including:

  • Fusion failure — A false joint, known as pseudarthrosis, may develop if the bones don’t fuse as expected; additional surgery may be necessary.

  • Blood clots — Also known as thrombosis; steps must be taken by the surgical team to prevent serious thrombosis-related problems, including pulmonary embolism.

  • Infection — This is relatively rare, but unpredictable; if it occurs beneath the skin, additional surgery may be required. The highly invasive nature of this surgery increases a patient’s risk of infection.

  • Nerve damage — A surgical instrument that bumps or cuts a nerve can cause permanent damage.

  • Excessive blood loss — The large incision that cuts through the muscles surrounding the spine increases a patient’s risk of excessive blood loss.

Before you determine which procedure with which you would like to proceed, you should weigh the risks against the possible benefits of the surgery.

Minimally invasive alternatives for spinal stenosis

For patients seeking a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures reduce the risks associated with traditional open back surgery by eliminating the need for a large, invasive incision. During our minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon will make a small, 1-inch incision in the neck to access the spine. This small incision does not disrupt the muscles surrounding the spine, thus reducing risk and recovery time.*

For more information about the types of minimally invasive surgery we offer to treat cervical spinal stenosis, please contact our Care Team today. We can help you schedule a consultation to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.