Cervical Stenosis Surgery

Important Facts About Cervical Stenosis Surgery and Alternative Treatments

Cervical stenosis is a painful spinal cord disorder, due to narrowing of the nerve ways or spinal canal, which may call for cervical stenosis surgery.  The problem is identified as spinal cord compression. There are two types of cervical stenosis; 1) Cervical central stenosis:  the spinal canal is narrowed, and 2) Cervical foraminal stenosis:  side corners of the spinal canal are narrowed.  This area is called the foramen.

A patient may have one type, or in some cases, both.  It can be congenital but usually afflicts people over age 50.  Symptoms can include neck pain, shoulder pain, reduced hand coordination, a shooting pain in the back when the head moves, and in extremely rare cases bladder and bowel problems.

Cervical stenosis can be caused by excess bone developing in ligaments (ossification), where and tear on the spinal cord.  It can also occur when the bones in the sides of the spinal canal are not long enough to allow comfortable nerve function. It is sometimes brought on by a neck injury, which may have occurred recently, or ever years before symptoms arise.

Doctors will try non-surgical options for this spinal cord disorder before recommending surgery.  Listed here are basic facts for the layperson about non-surgical options to cervical stenosis surgery, as well as types of surgery.


Treatments: non surgical

Acupuncture:  If the patient has used this before and/or is opened to it, results may be positive.  Acupuncture has gained legitimacy in professional medial circles in the past several years, if the practitioner is licensed and follows required sanitation procedures.
Physical Therapy:  Including use of a brace, gentle massage, and stretching.  This should be done with professional supervision.

Medications: These include anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen in high doses, somewhat effective, and narcotics, more successful at elevating pain but not addressing the original problem.

Medications - Epidermal: The most successful drug treatment is an injection into the spine of cortisone or other steroids.  This is done 2, 3 times at most, and if not effective, surgery is recommended (baring other non-surgical approaches).


Applying of hot or cold compress:  This is usually done by a physical therapist, as their equipment is more targeted and effective than a regular cold/hot compress.

Chiropractic or manual manipulation is not recommended as it could cause further pain or damage. Good posture is also important in relieving pain. Patients with a history of poor posture receive instructions to correct it.  Good posture can lessen pain for some.

Treatments: cervical stenosis surgery

Decompressive laminectomy surgery:  Used frequently, it involves removal of the vertebral roof, allowing more room for nerves in the spine.

Posterior laminoplasty:  Expands space in the spinal canal by lifting one side of the vertebral roof.

Discectomy:  Removal of all or part of a disc to alleviate pressure on nerves

Foraminotomy:   Expands space in the corners of the spinal column

The prognosis for a cure should be excellent with all of these types of cervical stenosis surgery. This information is not meant to replace professional medical advice.

You are encouraged to discuss cervical stenosis or related problems with a licensed health care provider, and to pursue further information via medical sites such as the Mayo Clinic or the American Medical Association.



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