Conditions and Treatments

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

What Is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

Cervical spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space for the spinal cord or nerve branches. More specifically, as the spine degenerates over time, it can lead to the formation of bone spurs. As the bone spurs form, the size of the spinal canal (bony tunnel transmitting the spinal nerves) becomes smaller. The bone spurs press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots, often causing pain or weakness. This degenerative condition is associated with spondlylolisthesis (slipping forward of one vertebra relative to another) and scoliosis (crooked spine). More than 1.2 million Americans suffer back pain stemming from spinal stenosis, with men and women being affected equally. Women, however, are more likely to have symptoms that require treatment. While cervical spinal stenosis can affect younger patients, it is most common in those 60 and older. Arthritis is the most common cause of cervical spinal stenosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

What Are the Causes of Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

What Are the Treatments for Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

Non-surgical Treatment

Dr. Singh first uses conservative, non-surgical treatments for cervical spinal stenosis. Non-surgical treatments, however, do not correct spinal narrowing. Instead, the treatment options for cervical spinal arthritis and cervical spinal stenosis are aimed at controlling pain and improving quality of life for some patients. Some treatment options include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy to increase flexibility
  • Spinal steroidal injections or “blocks”
Surgical Treatment

If a patient does not improve after non-surgical treatment, Dr. Singh may suggest surgery as a solution for cervical spinal stenosis. The goal of the surgery is to open the spinal canal to give nerves adequate space. There are two primary kinds of surgery to treat cervical spinal stenosis, depending on whether or not the patient has coexisting instability (abnormal movement) or deformity (abnormal alignment of the spine):