Cervical stenosis is a condition involving the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, known as the cervical area. In cervical stenosis, the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves. This is most often due to degenerative changes that occur with age, but it can also result from a number of other conditions.
The symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis often come on gradually over a period of time. These symptoms include stiffness, pain, numbness in the neck and limbs, motor skill impairment, and loss of strength. Cases of cervical spinal stenosis that produce adverse symptoms are frequently treated with surgery.
The expert team at the Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence is highly trained in treating stenosis, providing the best cervical spinal stenosis care in Los Angeles.
What is Cervical Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis is defined as the narrowing of the spinal canal in the cervical region of the spine. When the spinal canal in the cervical spine is narrowed, pressure can be put on the spinal nerves and spinal cord. This can alters their normal function and lead to various undesirable symptoms. Cervical spinal stenosis is one of the most common – and often most severe – types of spinal stenosis.
It is most common in people over the age of 50, as it is often due to age-related issues. Cervical spinal stenosis also affects both men and women equally. Some level of stenosis, or constricting, occurs in the majority of people as they age. It isn’t until the spinal canal becomes small enough to compress the nerves or spinal cord that symptoms begin to emerge.
What Causes Cervical Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis most often occurs as a result of the disc degeneration process that comes with aging. As we age, the discs in our spine begin to lose their structural integrity. When this happens, the discs can collapse, transferring a weight load onto the facet joints.
These facet joints in turn begin to develop arthritis as cartilage that protects them wears away. As this happens, the ligaments thicken and bone spurs begin to grow as body the works to counteract the lost cartilage. The thickening ligaments and the excess bone surface decrease the available space for the spine and nerves, thus creating symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis.
Other possible causes of cervical spinal stenosis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Trauma from an injury or fall
- Displaced or herniated discs
What are the Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis?
Since the narrowing of the spinal canal can be gradual and occur without spinal restriction, cervical spinal stenosis won’t always generate symptoms. Most patients with cervical stenosis symptoms experience some form of neck pain and headaches, although it’s possible to have pain or odd sensations in the shoulder and arms without pain in the head or neck. When the cervical nerves are pinched, numbness, pain, and weakness can result in any of the upper-extremities.
If the stenosis becomes so severe that there is pressure placed on the spinal cord, serious symptoms like loss of motor skills and difficulty balancing or walking may result. If the spinal cord is damaged, cervical stenosis can become crippling. The symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis generally include:
- Pain, stiffness, or numbness in the neck, shoulders, and extremities
- Trouble with balance and coordination
It is not unheard of for cervical spinal stenosis to be misdiagnosed. Some of the stenosis symptoms can be mischaracterized as symptoms of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff tears. Therefore, it is important to seek the opinion of a spine expert if you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to spinal stenosis.
How is Cervical Stenosis Treated?
Even though many cervical spinal stenosis cases end up requiring surgery, most cases are first treated with non-surgical means. These include medications, therapy, and steroid injections. If non-surgical treatment is unable to relieve the symptoms, surgical treatment may be necessary.
At the Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence, our surgeons are experts in a variety of spinal stenosis surgical procedures. These procedures include:
Contact a Spinal Stenosis Expert in Los Angeles
If you are suffering from symptoms that may be the result of cervical spinal stenosis, or if you have been told that you may need spine surgery, the world-renowned spine specialists at the Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence are here to help. Our team of expert surgeons provides the very best Los Angeles spinal stenosis surgery, with a patient friendly approach in an unmatched outpatient facility. If you would like to schedule a consultation with an expert, call today at 888.538.0565 or use our contact form.