What is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?
In older adults, chronic neck pain is often caused by cervical spinal stenosis (CSS). CSS is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows. This pinches the nerves, causing pain, tingling, and numbness in the neck, upper back, and extremities.
The cervical spine refers to the set of seven cervical vertebrae connecting the thoracic spine to the base of the skull. These vertebrae contain hollow spaces, which together form the spinal canal. The spinal canal is home to the spinal cord, a bundle of nerves which transmits messages between the brain and all other areas of the body, including the sensation of pain.
In a healthy spine, there is plenty of room inside the spinal canal for the nerves to function properly. But as we age, wear-and-tear on the cervical vertebrae can cause the spinal canal to narrow, closing in on the nerves, and causing a painful condition known as CSS.
Causes of Neck Pain due to Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Why does the spinal canal narrow? There are a number of possible causes. The precise cause of your condition may be difficult to pinpoint, but it may be due to one or a combination of the following:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- Disc protrusions
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bone spurs (osteophytes) on the vertebrae or facet joints
- Tumorous growth
Cervical spinal stenosis is most commonly found in older adults, who are more susceptible to disc degeneration and osteoarthritis in their advanced age.
Over time, the cartilage which cushions and lubricates the cervical joints wears thin. This causes bone-on-bone friction when moving the neck, leading to pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Bone spurs may start to develop, making the spinal canal even smaller. Before long, the bone spurs are closing in on those sensitive nerve endings, called a “pinched nerve.”
Advanced Pain Management Treatments for Cervical Spinal Stenosis Include:
Cervical Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of CSS include:
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Pain that radiates into the arms and fingers
- Weakness, numbness in the arms
- Pins and needles sensations
Myelopathy. Myelopathy refers to neurological symptoms resulting from damage to the spinal cord caused by CSS. Myelopathy is a dangerous condition that could cause permanent neurological damage, paralysis, or death.
If you experience any symptoms of myelopathy, call your doctor right away. These symptoms include:
- Loss of balance or changes in gait
- Changes in fine motor skills
- Changes in handwriting
- Loss of dexterity or grip strength
- Changes in bowel/bladder function
- Loss of positional awareness in arms and legs
Cervical Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Your treatment plan will be custom-tailored to your needs, and may include a combination of the following:
- Physical therapy.
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- Epidural steroid injections.
- Platelet-rich plasma injections – harnesses the body’s own regenerative healing powers.
- Hydrodisectomy – water jets was away herniated disc tissue.
If you suffer from chronic neck pain, herniated disc pain, or a pinched nerve, call our offices today, and learn what our award-winning pain management specialist can do for you. Nuvo Spine offers a variety of nonsurgical treatments for CSS patients, including the most advanced minimally-invasive techniques.