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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
  • Tingling
  • 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 USA Spine Care. We specialize in a variety of minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures, offering the benefits of higher patient satisfaction scores, fewer risks and shorter recovery times^ than traditional open back surgeries.

The experienced surgeons at USA Spine Care have already helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck and back pain.

To learn more about how USA Spine Care 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.

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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