About Cervical Stenosis
Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the areas that surround the spinal cord and nerves which exit the spine. The narrowing or stenosis can be “central”, meaning the central spinal canal space is decreased, “neuroforaminal” meaning that the exit point of the nerves from the spine is impaired or reduced, or stenosis can involve the “lateral recesses”, specific areas within the spinal canal where the nerves exist. Causes for cervical spinal stenosis can involve congenital problems, such as shortened pedicles, disc bulges or herniations that lead to stenosis, or osteoarthritic changes from bone spurs or enlarged facet joints which can take up space surrounding the nerves. Additionally, a thickened ligamentum flavum can lead to cervical stenosis as well. As we age, our intervertebral discs lose water content and “shrink”. With this loss of disc height, ligaments that support the spine can fold inward and cause stenosis.
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Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis
Narrowing in the upper (cervical) spine can cause numbness, weakness or tingling in a leg, foot, arm or hand. Patients may also endorse neck pain or shoulder pain that is described as deep, achy, sharp, or shooting pain. In severe cases, patients may endorse weakness in their hands or fingers when trying to hold objects. In very severe cases, nerves to the bladder or bowel may be affected, leading to incontinence.
Treatments for Cervical Stenosis
Procedural treatments for cervical stenosis can include cortisone injections into the epidural space or the facet joints if they are hypertrophied (enlarged or arthritic). The location of the injection is decided by the distribution of symptoms and imaging findings. Regenexx treatments including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and platelet lysate injections can also be used experimentally to provide a healthier environment to promote healing in these cervical spine areas.
If you suffer from cervical stenosis, please make an appointment to see one of our physicians. Ospina Medical is located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Please contact our office to schedule an exam and consultation to learn more about your treatment options.
Cervical Stenosis FAQ
How common is cervical stenosis?
A 2007 study found that almost five percent of the total adult population has cervical stenosis. This number rises to almost seven percent for people over age 50 and almost 10% for those over 70.
What causes cervical stenosis?
Cervical stenosis, or narrowing of the area surrounding the spinal cord, can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Disc bulges or herniations
- Degeneration caused by aging
- Bone spurs, or bone overgrowth
- Ligaments that have thickened
- Tumors or abnormal growths
- A traumatic injury
- A congenital deformity
What can happen if cervical stenosis is left untreated?
Because cervical spinal stenosis is most often a degenerative condition, if left untreated, can get worse. Patients may experience a worsening of pain, numbness, tingling, and other symptoms. Untreated cervical stenosis can also limit range of motion and affect the ability to do everyday tasks greatly impacting quality of life. Also, the longer it goes untreated, the more difficult it is to affect healing and recovery. That's why diagnosis and treatment for cervical stenosis at Ospina Medical is so important to maintaining optimal health.