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:
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:
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.
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 ProcedureWhat to ExpectRecovery Times
Problems from anesthesia.
A deep infection in the surgical wound.
A skin infection.
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.
^Results are typical, but not guaranteed, each patients experience with spine surgery will differ.
For more information, visit usaspinecare.com/results. The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a replacement for a medical diagnosis.
*Our MRI review is an informational review of the MRI report that you provide to us and is not a form of diagnosis. A diagnosis and a final determination of whether you may benefit from treatment at USA Spine Care can only be made after you have been physically examined by our medical professionals at USA Spine Care. The MRI review has no value and will not be billed.