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Spine Injury & Disease

Spine Injury & Disease

Cervical spinal stenosis

is a narrowing of the spinal canal within the spinal column, which then places pressure on the spinal cord contained within. By far the most common cause of stenosis within the canal causing pressure on the cord is changes associated with aging. You may hear the word “degenerative” to describe these changes. Other conditions can cause the canal to narrow and place pressure on the cord as well, such as disc herniations, fractures, or tumors, but degenerative changes are by far the most common. Symptoms include neck pain, arm pain or numbness, manual clumsiness or dropping things, gait instability or feeling imbalanced, and even bladder control issues. These types of symptoms are called myelopathy, which means resulting from pressure on the spinal cord. Treatment is usually surgical. Surgery may be anterior, or from the front, posterior, or from the back, or both. Your neurosurgeon will discuss the various treatment options with you and your family and help determine the best course of action.

Cervical Disc Herniation

The discs of the spine are like cushions in between the vertebra, or building blocks, of the spine. Their structure is similar to a jelly donut—soft in the middle and firmer on the outside. Sometimes the jelly part can herniate or rupture through the outer part, and place pressure on a nerve to the arm as it exits the canal. This can cause neck pain, arm pain, and/or arm numbness that radiates all the way into the fingers. Your neurosurgeon may recommend a conservative treatment, such as physical therapy. If that does not work you may be referred to a pain management physician to discuss injection therapy. Your neurosurgeon may also recommend surgery. This is typically done from the front, a procedure known as an anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion, or an ACDF, but your neurosurgeon will discuss this in detail if it becomes necessary. Sometimes patients need more than one level addressed, and undergo a multilevel procedure. If this is necessary your neurosurgeon will discuss this as well.

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