Stenosis in the neck, also called the cervical spine, affects the upper part of the body including the arms and hands. Stenosis is the narrowing of the bony canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves to the point where it injures the spinal cord or nerves.
This may be caused by a number of conditions including bone spurs or rupture of the spinal discs, the spongy pads of tissue that keep the vertebrae from grinding against each other when you bend your back.
Most cases of stenosis in the neck, or cervical stenosis, develop in patients over age 50 because of wear and tear on the spine. Some patients are born with condition and others develop it after a spine injury.
Cervical stenosis most often causes stiffness or pain in the neck, which may increase over time. Other symptoms include:
Doctors use two kinds of tests to diagnose spinal stenosis. Some of the tests are aimed at making sure there isn't another cause producing the symptoms. Others can indicate that the vertebral narrowing has occurred. After asking you questions about your symptoms, your doctor probably will check your reflexes, gait and other indicators of spinal problems.
If several months of treatment have not improved the symptoms, and if the stenosis is severe, surgery to widen the spinal canal may be necessary. Because bone continues to deteriorate, additional treatment may be needed several years after even successful surgery. Operations used to treat stenosis include:
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
400 Parnassus Ave., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-0332
Phone: (866) 81-SPINE or
Neuro-spine Fax: (415) 353-2176
Ortho-spine Fax: (415) 353-4047