Spine

Cervical Stenosis/Cervical Myelopathy

Cervical (neck) spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal to a degree where the spinal cord or nerve roots may be affected. Spinal stenosis may occur throughout the spine but is more dangerous in the neck due to the presence of the spinal cord.

Myelopathy describes any neurologic symptoms related to the spinal cord and is a serious condition. It occurs from spinal stenosis that causes pressure on the spinal cord. If untreated, this can lead to significant and permanent nerve damage including paralysis and death.

Symptoms

Symptoms may affect your gait and balance, dexterity, grip strength and bowel or bladder function. It can cause pain, weakness, or sensory changes in either your arms or legs. It may be difficult to use your arms and hands or to know where you are placing your feet as you walk. You may notice handwriting changes, walk differently and have difficulty maintaining your balance. You may drop items, have trouble fastening your jewelry or texting and typing. You should get medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Treatment

Physical therapy and medications are used for mild treatment to stabilize and improve symptoms. Traction therapy can also provide symptom relief. When these treatments aren’t effective, steroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Surgery is necessary with cervical myelopathy or intractable lumbar spinal stenosis.