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What is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

Cervical Spinal Stenosis — Narrowing in the Upper Spine

Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress the spinal cord or nerves, resulting in pain, weakness, numbness and other symptoms. When this condition occurs in the upper, or cervical, region of the spine in the neck it is referred to as cervical stenosis.

Common spinal stenosis symptoms

A narrowing of the spinal canal typically doesn’t cause symptoms unless it progresses to a point where it significantly compresses the spinal cord or nerves. When this happens, intermittent or chronic pain, numbness, or weakness may be felt in the neck and shoulders and may extend down the arms to the hands. The neck pain is often described as stiffness, and people often complain of a numbness or heaviness in the arms and hands. When the spinal cord is compressed, there can be shock-like pain down the arms and legs, difficulty using the arms and hands, or difficulty walking.

Cervical spinal stenosis causes

Cervical stenosis is most frequently caused by degenerative changes, including osteoarthritis, in the neck. After years of normal wear and tear, cushioning between bones in the spine may break down, allowing bones to wear against each other. At these sites, the body produces growths called bone spurs that may narrow the spinal canal, causing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Occasionally, large disc herniations and spinal tumors can narrow the spinal canal enough to compress the spinal cord.

Treatment options for cervical spinal stenosis

Cervical stenosis may or may not require treatment depending on whether symptoms include pain or disability. Nonsurgical treatments may include modifying activities to reduce stress on the spine, physical therapy, medications or injections to reduce pain and inflammation or wearing a brace. In severe cases or those that are progressively worsening, physicians may recommend surgery to correct the condition.

Learn more today

If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to  reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.

Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

Spinal Stenosis "Quick Answers"

Depending on the region and severity Spinal stenosis feels like tingling, burning and/or weakness in the hands, arms, neck, lower back or legs. It may also feel like a radiating pain or shooting shock-like pain. Read more in the links below:
Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis Overview
Defining Spinal Stenosis
Researching Spinal Stenosis
Learning About Back Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology
The types of spinal stenosis are region based and consist of cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar or lower back. In addition, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen. Read more in the links below:
Spinal Stenosis of the Neck
Cervical Stenosis - Basic Facts
Neck Stenosis Causes
Neck Stenosis Treatment
Central Canal Stenosis
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis in the Back
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition, most often located in the Lumbar spine, may be caused by degeneration of the spine, wear and tear, sports injury, & collapsing discs. Read more in the links below.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Obesity May Lead to a Stenosis Diagnosis
Age and its Role in the Development of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis Causes
Identifying Common Causes
From Birth Defects to Getting Older
Degenerative Conditions
Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of spinal stenosis include tingling or numbness in the extremities, pain and weakness in the neck, back and/or legs. In severe cases bladder, bowel dysfunction/continence. Learn more in the links below:
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis and Hand Pain
Recognizing Spinal Stenosis
Have You Been Diagnosed?
About Your Diagnosis
Diagnostic Process
Helping Your Physician
How a Diagnosis Is Made
Arriving at a Diagnosis
Physician specialties that treat spinal stenosis include: Pain management & rehabilitation physicians, spine surgeons, orthopedic specialists & neurosurgeons. Read more about these specialties in the links below:
Doctors Who Treat Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Decompression Doctors
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below:
Recovery After a Procedure
What to Expect
Recovery Times

  • Problems from anesthesia.
  • A deep infection in the surgical wound.
  • A skin infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
  • Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
  • Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
  • The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
  • Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.

Read more in the links below:

Overview of Risk Factors
Most Common Risk Factors
Obesity & Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis
Treating Elderly Patients

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