As people age, the spinal column starts to narrow and pain arises as bone spurs develop and press on nerves. This is common with patients over 50 and it is often referred to as “bulging of the discs.”
Weighing all disabling factors suffered by the patient, neurosurgeons consider both surgical and non-surgical cervical stenosis treatments. More conservative treatment is pursued if symptoms are less serious, but surgery may be an immediate course of action when patients face extraordinary lifestyle compromises. While treatment plans will vary, these options are likely for anyone who receives this diagnosis.
- Activity: Managing the cervical stenosis depends on remaining as active as tolerable. Physical therapy practices spine strengthening exercises that can help the narrowing slow down and delay the development of painful bone spurs. Overall improved physical condition generally reduces pain.
- Cortisone Injections: Patients with cervical stenosis take anti-inflammatory medication to manage their pain. If this proves inadequate, a physician may prescribe cortisone injections. The injections are administered in the epidural space and will reduce pain in 50 percent of cases. Up to three injections can be given over several months.
- Neurosurgery: Cervical stenosis causes serious problems with limb control, continence, and muscle weakness, all of which can disrupt lifestyles. Surgery becomes the best option at that time. Surgical procedures include posterior cervical foraminotomy, anterior cervical discetomy and fusion, and anterior cervical foraminotomy. Each procedure is generally the same except for the location of the operation and the extent of tissue removal or fusion. In each, neurosurgeons remove the bone, disc, or tissue causing pain and may fuse offending vertebrae together, depending on the patient’s symptoms.