Of all the vertebrae in the spinal column, the first seven vertebrae labeled C1 through C7, which connect the skull’s bottom to the upper back is termed as the cervical spine. It plays a vital role in protecting the originating ends of the spinal cord while it balances and distributes the head’s weight. But most importantly, the cervical vertebrae from C1 to C6 consist of small pores that provide a passageway for vertebral arteries to carry blood to the brain. With such vital functionality, any problem to this vertebral column can have severe consequences on the rest of the body. And spinal stenosis is one of the most prevalent threats that harm the cervical spine mostly in people who cross the age of 50.

‘Spinal stenosis’ is a common condition where the cylindrical hollow space within the spinal column keeps getting narrower and starts pinching and damaging the nerves and tendons of the spinal cord. Severe pain being the most apparent symptom of this condition, it can also cause some serious unexpected symptoms and dysfunctions throughout the body. 

Causes:

The most common cause of cervical spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, a systemic disease that starts degrading the bone cartilages and attacking the bones across the body. The bone spurs that it causes over the vertebral discs can damage the spinal nerves. Other types of damages to the vertebral discs that directly cause spinal stenosis include:

Disc Herniation: In cases where the fluid gel within the discs leaks out through herniated regions, this fluid presses against the cord’s nerves.

Spinal Tumors: if cancerous tumors start to form over within the spinal column, they can poke the spinal cord and cause stenosis.

Impact Fractures: fractures caused due to external impact injuries can disposition the discs and impinge the cord consequently.

Paget’s Disease: This is a relatively rare condition where the vertebrae start to grow abnormally brittle and large, strangling the spinal cord inwards. 

Symptoms:

Since the cervical spine protects the signaling nerves leaving the brain while enabling the arterial blood supply, cervical stenosis symptoms tend to reflect all over the body, such as:

  • General pain, tingling, spasms, or numbness in the legs, arms, or torso
  • A sensation of severe ache in the lower back or buttocks that shoots down the legs
  • Severe weakness in legs which may cause you to slap your foot down while walking
  • Stiffness and pain while standing or walking
  • Uncontrolled bowel movements caused by a weakened bladder nerves

Treating Cervical Spinal Stenosis:

Non-Surgical Options:

Most spinal narrowing symptoms that are mild or moderate can be dealt with through some lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly and losing excess weight after consulting your physician. Applying frequent hot and cold presses can also help loosen the tightened tendons.

Symptoms such as muscle spasms, nerve damage, seizures, and pain can be controlled and relieved with prescribed medications from your physician. Severe symptoms of pain and inflammation can be eased with nerve blocks and corticosteroid injections. 

Surgical Options:

In more severe cases where the narrowing of the spine prevents the patient from performing routine activities such as walking or passing bowels, surgically rearranging the vertebrae and relieving the nerves might be a better solution.

In such cases, a laminectomy and laminoplasty surgery will be performed with the spine surgeon frees up the jammed vertebrae by removing a portion of a vertebra and installing prosthetic fixtures for support.

Cervical spinal stenosis is fairly common and highly treated these days. All you need to do is find the right spine surgeon and get appropriate treatment. Dr. Akhil Tawari is a specialized spine surgeon for spinal stenosis treatment in Mumbai, who can help you deal with your spine problems with only the most advanced and suitable treatment options. You can visit Dr. Akhil Tawari’s website to learn more about his work as a modern-day spine surgeon for spinal stenosis treatment.