Imagine if you dug a hole to build a house that was too small for the structure itself, then forced the structure into it. That’s similar to what happens when you have spinal stenosis.
The spinal canal is too small for your nerve roots and spinal cord. This can lead to pinched nerves and damage to your spinal cord, known as myelopathy.
Cervical stenosis is a type of spinal stenosis that’s characterized by the narrowing of your cervical spine, or the part that forms your neck. Thankfully, this condition is treatable. If it’s causing problems, the earlier it’s diagnosed and treated, the better.
Interventional pain specialist Dr. William Yancey at Yancey Pain & Spine in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, takes an integrative approach to managing spinal stenosis, providing treatments aimed at alleviating your symptoms and preventing the need for surgery.
What causes cervical stenosis
Cervical stenosis is usually caused by combined factors that lead to compression of your upper spinal cord. These factors may include:
- Increasing age
- Increased size of a ligament in the spinal canal
- Injury to your spine
- Ossification, when a ligament turns into bone
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Shorter-than-average bones that form the sides of the spinal canal
- Herniated (bulging) discs
Signs of cervical stenosis
Cervical stenosis can appear in a range of ways that affect people differently. In many cases, symptoms start out relatively mild in intensity and worsen over time. In other words, symptomatic cervical stenosis is a progressive condition that can lead to complications if it goes unaddressed.
It’s also possible to have cervical stenosis and experience no noticeable symptoms at all, however, in which case treatment isn’t required.
Early symptoms of cervical stenosis may include:
- Electrical sensation that shoots down your back or arms when you move your head
- Ongoing neck pain
- Pain in one or both of your arms
- Sensations of your arms or hands being numb or “asleep”
As cervical stenosis worsens, you may experience:
- Arm and hand weakness
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Difficulties walking
- Increased risk for spills and injuries
- Loss of arm and hand coordination
Treatment for cervical stenosis
Surgery can be an option for cervical stenosis, particularly in severe cases. In lesser cases, however, Dr. Yancey may recommend physical therapy, medications, injections, or a combination of these options.
These minimally invasive treatments are especially beneficial for older patients, who might not be good candidates for surgery. And regardless of your age or tolerance of surgery, less invasive treatments mean less pain, a lower risk of complications associated with surgery, and no need for lengthy recovery time.
To learn more about cervical stenosis or its treatments, call the Houston or The Woodlands, Texas, office of Yancey Pain & Spine or request an appointment with Dr. Yancey online. You can also send our team a message here on the website.