Cervical Stenosis

Cervical stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal where the spinal cord and the nerves travel. Spinal stenosis can be caused by overgrowth of bone spurs, degenerative disc disease and a significant disc herniation. This is graded by mild, moderate and severe mainly by advanced imaging studies such as a MR of CT of the cervical spine. When severe spinal stenosis is present, it is important to watch for compromise of the spinal cord and the nerves.

Symptoms

Neck pain, numbness, weakness and pain radiating into both arms. It is important to watch for difficulty with walking, inability to urinate or bowel issues.

Diagnostic testing

Cervical spine X-rays will show the overall structure of the spine and any significant bone spurs. If there are symptoms in both arms, an MRI or CT may be indicated. An MR or CT will help to see if stenosis is present and the severity. This will also look at the integrity of the spinal cord. Nerve studies can also be helpful to evaluate for peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pinched nerves in the neck.

Treatments

For mild to moderate stenosis, physical therapy may be helpful to improve the range of motion. Anti-inflammatories and pain medications may be helpful. If there is involvement of the spinal cord, consultation with a spinal surgeon is important.