The spinal canal is the hollow passage formed by the spine through which the spinal cord travels. Cervical spinal stenosis refers to the portion of the spinal cord in the neck (cervical region) being pinched in the canal (stenosis).
As arthritis progresses in the spine, it can lead to wearing of the discs and presence of bony spurs that can cause narrowing of the spinal canal and pinching of the spinal cord.
If the spinal cord becomes significantly compressed it can lead to a condition called cervical myelopathy in which the spinal cord is too damaged to function normally.
WHAT SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR WITH CERVICAL MYELOPATHY:
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE CERVICAL MYELOPATHY
A spine specialist can perform a thorough physical exam. You may need advanced imaging such as an MRI or CT scan. You may also require nerve conduction studies known as electromyelograms (EMGs) which can help assess nerve damage.
Mild symptoms may only require observation. For progressive symptoms or acutely presenting symptoms, it is important that the pressure is taken off the spinal cord in order to stop the progression of spinal cord injury and avoid paralysis.
Because this is a disease that progresses slowly, many people do not present to the office until symptoms are more apparent. It is not necessarily a painful condition, but It is important for patients to be educated on these symptoms in order to notify their spinal specialist of any changes that occur.
Dr. Ehsan Jazini is a board certified spine surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute.
He has been the first in the nation, and in the world, to perform advanced surgical techniques in cervical disc replacement, augmented reality (AR) spine surgery, and robotic spine surgery. Dr. Jazini was the first in the world to perform Augmented Reality guided personalized spine implant surgery using artificial intelligence. As a leading published author in the field of spine surgery, Dr. Jazini was selected as the Editor in Chief of The Spine Health Journal for the National Spine Health Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Jazini.