Cervical spinal stenosis (neck and upper back)

If displaced bone or soft tissue causes the spinal cord or nerve root passageways in the upper portion of the spine to become constricted, a patient is said to have cervical spinal stenosis. In many cases, spinal narrowing in the upper (cervical) section of the spinal column arises because of an obstruction like a bone spur or a damaged intervertebral disc. Spinal stenosis can be a disorder that is present at birth (some individuals are born with a naturally narrow spinal column), though it is most commonly a result of aging and wear and tear to the spine.

If the spinal cord becomes constricted, the results can affect the entire body. Symptoms of spinal cord compression in the cervical area of the spine include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness in the upper and lower extremities
  • Tingling
  • Spasticity in the legs and difficulty walking

If nerve roots are constricted by cervical spinal stenosis, the symptoms may be slightly different:

  • Neck pain
  • Pain that radiates down the shoulders and arms
  • Numbness, tingling and weakness in the shoulders and arms
  • Headaches and loss of balance

Individuals who experience the above symptoms should make an appointment with a physician to get a proper diagnosis, as the symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis are often similar to those of other neck and back problems. During the diagnostic process, a physical examination will be performed and is usually accompanied by an X-ray, CT scan or MRI.

Treatment for cervical spinal stenosis is similar to that of other spinal stenosis treatments, and usually begins conservatively with exercises to strengthen the neck and back, gentle stretching and rest. Some patients find relief through over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, however many people try prescription medications or steroid injections, depending on the severity of the pain.

When debilitating neck and back pain persists and conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery might be another option. There are minimally invasive, outpatient procedures available at Laser Spine Institute, offering the benefits of higher patient satisfaction rates, fewer side effects and shorter recovery times§ than traditional open back surgeries. The orthopedic surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform effective, minimally invasive procedures that can help patients find relief from neck and back pain.

To learn more about the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed by the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute and whether you might be a candidate, contact us today.

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