What Is Cervical Stenosis?


Quick Answer

Cervical stenosis refers to an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal at the neck region, according to NYU's Spine Center. It is commonly caused by degenerative disc diseases, herniation, congenital pathologies or aging. Cervical stenosis causes neurological deficits or symptoms, such as pain, stiffness or numbness in the neck, according to WebMD. It also causes tingling in the hands, arms or legs.

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The UCSF Medical Center explains that cervical stenosis is common in people above 50 years because aging causes herniation of vertebral discs, thickening of spinal ligaments, compression fractures or growth of bone spurs into the spinal canal. Cervical stenosis may cause damage to the spinal cord, leading to crippling symptoms or loss of bowel or bladder control, explains the Mayo Clinic. Permanent disability or injury results from prolonged compression on the spinal cord. Diagnosis of cervical stenosis involves physical examination procedures, such as testing reflexes or changes in gait patterns, taking history of symptoms and X-ray or MRI scans. Blood tests can also be used to eliminate diseases with similar symptoms, such as Vitamin B12 deficiency and multiple sclerosis, states NYU's Spine Center. A patients with cervical myelopathy or damage of the spinal cord has strong reflexes. Cervical stenosis can be treated through non-surgical procedures, such as physiotherapy, traction and immobilization. Medications used in treatment of cervical stenosis include analgesics, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants and NSAIDs. WebMD states that surgical treatment for cervical stenosis involves widening of the spinal canal. Patients should report the symptoms of cervical stenosis immediately because early detection and treatment permits recovery.

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