When you can’t get out of bed without severe pain in your neck, it’s time to see an expert. If you let it, neck pain can sap all the joy out of your life. Don’t let that happen. Chronic neck pain has a number of causes, one of which is spinal stenosis. Unlike other spinal ailments, cervical stenosis involves damage or degeneration on the inside of the spinal canal. You may feel more severe pain or wider-ranging symptoms from stenosis as compared to a more common pinched nerve. Let Dr. Branko Skovrlj at NU-Spine in Edison, NJ, diagnose and treat you in his new state-of-the-art facility. Call today to get out of neck pain.
Do I Need to Worry about Spinal Stenosis?
The cervical spinal canal runs through your neck in the middle of your spinal column. Composed of vertebral bones, discs, ligaments, muscle, and other connective tissue, your spine protects the spinal cord that passes through it from the base of your brain to your sacrum. Your spinal cord is the central part of your central nervous system, allowing you to feel, move, and control other body functions.
Normally, your spinal canal provides enough room for you to bend and move without hampering your spinal cord. But the cervical spine is the narrowest part of your spine — and the least protected. Cervical spinal stenosis causes neck pain whenever you move. It impacts select nerves or groups of nerves in your neck, leading to nerve problems and pain.
If you suffer from persistent pain or numbness around your cervical spine, visit New Jersey neurosurgeon Dr. Branko Skovrlj. The founder of NU-Spine, The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, a state-of-the-art spine center in Edison, New Jersey, Dr. Skovrlj is the leading neurosurgeon in the region. He has access to the latest spinal diagnostics and treatment practices, ensuring you get the most effective treatment.
What Is Cervical Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis is a medical condition that narrows in the spinal canal in your neck. When this happens, the canal squeezes and compresses your spinal cord, which can have disastrous consequences. It causes debilitating pain, stiffness, numbness, or weakness in your neck and arms. If you have lumbar stenosis, in contrast, you likely feel the effects in your lower back, buttocks and legs.
Cervical stenosis differs from other spinal maladies because the damage is within your spinal canal. Most other cervical spine issues involve damage or degradation outside the spinal column. These conditions normally affect root nerves as they exit the spinal column. For example:
- Cervical radiculopathy, which is a compressed nerve
- Cervical myelopathy, a compression injury
- Cervical kyphosis, which causes a hunchback deformity
What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis?
The most common symptoms of cervical stenosis include:
- Neck pain or neck fatigue
- Leg cramps and discomfort
- Numbness or weakness in your leg, hand or arm
- Tingling in your leg, hand or arm
- Decreased physical activity
- Impaired motor function, especially of your hands
- Difficulty walking
- Partial paralysis of an arm or leg
- Alterations in your gait or balance
- Loss of bladder or bowel control, in extreme cases
These symptoms are similar to other spinal conditions. The spinal medicine doctors at NU-Spine have the expertise and resources to diagnose the condition correctly, which allows them to recommend effective cervical stenosis treatment. Early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment.
What Can Cause Cervical Stenosis?
There are provide several possible causes of this spinal condition. The typical reasons you develop cervical spinal stenosis include:
- Degeneration. Natural wear and tear with age, often associated with osteoarthritis, creates a situation where vertebral bones rub against each other, creating bone spurs that can invade your spinal canal.
- A spinal cord injury. A blunt force trauma caused by a sudden force against your neck can cause damage that impacts your spinal cord.
- Spinal disc conditions, such as herniated discs, slipped discs or bulging discs.
- Poor posture. Hunching over a computer or a table for long stretches gradually deforms your spine to the point that you may develop stenosis.
- Weakened bones can impinge your spinal canal.
- Tumors or abnormal growths. These can grow into your spinal canal, although that’s rare.
The risk factors associated with spinal stenosis include age, as people older than 50 are more vulnerable to spinal stenosis. Smoking and a congenital spinal deformity are two other risk factors. Dr. Skovrlj, the spinal surgeon at NU-Spine, evaluates your risk while performing a thorough examination.
What’s the First Cervical Spinal Stenosis Treatment to Try?
Early diagnosis leads to better results in cervical stenosis treatment because your spinal cord likely hasn’t suffered extensive damage yet. Your spine surgeon determines the exact cause of your symptoms during the diagnostic phase. You undergo a medical history and a thorough exam. You may need to take several tests to pinpoint the source of your pain, such as x-rays, CT scans or an MRI.
At NU-Spine, your doctor uses a multidisciplinary approach, along with the latest technology to identify the cause of your neck pain and recommend the best treatment. If your diagnosis is stenosis, you may begin with the most conservative, non-invasive treatments to deal with your pain. Not everyone needs surgery. Non-surgical cervical stenosis treatment options include:
- Pain medications
- Activity modification to avoid those activities that cause the most pain
- Physical therapy, including exercises to maintain strength and flexibility
- Corticosteroid injections to dampen the pain
What’s the Best Treatment for Cervical Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis surgery may be the best treatment for you. It definitely addresses the root cause of your neck pain: where the stenosis is squeezing your cervical spinal cord. The types of minimally invasive spine surgery include:
- Endoscopic posterior cervical foraminotomy/cervical discectomy
- Cervical disc replacement
- Anterior cervical decompression and fusion
- Posterior cervical decompression
- Cervical arthroplasty
The spinal experts at NU-Spine, led by Dr. Slovrlj, get to the bottom of your neck pain. They have years of experience dealing with cervical stenosis. Get back to your active life as soon as possible. Contact the Edison, NJ practice today to schedule a life-changing appointment with a leading spinal surgeon.Page Updated on Jan 27, 2022 by Dr. Branko Skovrlj (Neurosurgeon / Spine surgeon) of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey