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 can develop because a bone spur or damaged spinal disc is protruding into the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis can also 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.
Symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis
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
- Spasticity in the legs and difficulty walking
If nerve roots are constricted by cervical spinal stenosis, the symptoms may include:
- 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
Treatment for cervical spinal stenosis is similar to other spinal stenosis treatments, which usually begin conservatively with exercises to strengthen the neck and back, gentle stretching and rest.
Some patients find relief using over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, while 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 may become an option.
If you find yourself in this situation, consider minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in a variety of minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures, offering the benefits of higher patient satisfaction rates, fewer risks and shorter recovery times§ than traditional open back surgeries.
The experienced surgeons at Laser Spine Institute have already helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck and back pain.
To learn more about how Laser Spine Institute can help you reclaim the active life you used to live, contact us today. We can provide a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.