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Cervical canal stenosis: myths and facts

Cervical spinal canal stenosis is narrowing of the central spinal canal in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. The cervical spine is composed of seven vertebrae — labeled C1 to C7 — beginning at the base of the skull. The spinal canal is formed by arches that protrude from the back of each vertebra, forming a protective tunnel through which the spinal cord runs from the brain out to the body. Stenosis refers to the gradual narrowing of this canal, often caused by degenerative spine conditions like osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.

Canal stenosis myths vs. facts

As with any health condition, there are some misconceptions about the causes, effects and treatment options for spinal canal stenosis. Here are some of these myths and facts to help set the record straight:

  • Myth: Cervical stenosis is always symptomatic. Stenosis typically presents symptoms when it causes compression of the spinal cord or nearby spinal nerves.
  • Myth: Cervical stenosis always requires surgery. Stenosis cases can often be managed with conservative treatment methods.
  • Fact: Cervical stenosis is more common in people over 50. As we age, parts of our spinal anatomy weaken and become susceptible to herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis, among others.
  • Fact: Cervical stenosis can cause pain and tingling throughout the neck, shoulders and arms. The symptoms often travel along the path of the compressed nerve.

Treatment options for cervical canal stenosis

If you are experiencing spinal canal stenosis, your doctor will almost always first recommend a conservative treatment plan. Conservative treatments for canal stenosis include pain medication, low-impact exercise, gentle stretching, hot/cold therapy and lifestyle changes. If weeks or months of these methods prove ineffective, your physician may then suggest you consider surgery.

If you’ve been recommended for surgery, a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery is not your only option. USA Spine Care performs minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures for patients with severe spinal canal stenosis. Our muscle-sparing techniques have helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain, without the muscle tearing and long recovery periods^ associated with traditional open spine surgery.

Contact us today to learn more and for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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