Cervical Stenosis and Myelopathy

Cervical stenosis, which can lead to the more serious cervical myelopathy, is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck.

A jellylike substance inside discs provides cushioning and helps hold vertebrae in place. If the substance dries out with age or oozes out of the disc into the spinal canal, it can cause stenosis and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Other causes of cervical stenosis include bone spurs on the vertebrae or overgrown ligaments in the spinal column. Facet joints in the back of the spine can degenerate with time or become enlarged from arthritis.

When the pressure from stenosis injures the spinal cord, affecting nerve function and causing symptoms, the condition is called cervical myelopathy.

Cervical stenosis typically develops over time, but can worsen rapidly after a long period of stability.

Loss of strength and sensation in the hands, frequently dropping things, or poor coordination and unsteady gait all can be signs of cervical stenosis that has advanced to myelopathy. Trouble using your hands and difficulty walking don’t need to permanently interfere with your life. Symptoms in patients with these signs of cervical myelopathy often can be greatly improved with nonsurgical treatment and, if necessary, surgery.

The combined team of orthopedic spine and neuroscience specialists at Norton Leatherman spine is the premier destination for patients in Louisville, Southern Indiana and beyond experiencing cervical stenosis and cervical myelopathy.

Our skilled physicians have the experience to identify the right treatment for a broad range of spinal conditions — including the most complicated issues and also more common, serious issues like cervical myelopathy that can affect both younger and older patients.

Our specialists know that surgery isn’t right for everyone. We’ll evaluate your case and give you a treatment plan customized for you. If simpler treatments don’t work, and relief will come only from an operation, you’ll want surgeons with the most experience and expertise.

Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis and Possibly Cervical Myelopathy

  • Numbness or tingling in a shoulder or arm that may go down to your fingers
  • Pain in a hand or arm
  • Neck pain or numbness
  • Deterioration of fine motor skills such as handwriting or buttoning a shirt
  • Trouble with coordination, and feeling off balance

Cervical Stenosis Treatment

With a combination of nonsurgical, surgical and innovative techniques, we can help relieve cervical stenosis and symptoms of cervical myelopathy.

As the most comprehensive spine care team in the region, our specialists routinely care for patients with potentially serious conditions such as cervical stenosis and cervical myelopathy. In selecting the best treatment plan for cervical stenosis, timing may be important. Cervical myelopathy is much easier to prevent than it is to repair.

Nonsurgical treatment can relieve many cervical stenosis symptoms.

  • Observation is recommended for minor cervical stenosis symptoms that aren’t getting worse or causing significant difficulties. Observation includes visits at regular intervals to ensure the condition isn’t progressing.
  • Prescription medication can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy can improve symptoms.
  • Injections can treat pain and reduce swelling.

If surgery is required, some patients with cervical spinal stenosis can be treated by limited decompression of the involved nerves. In other cases, associated issues such as kyphosis or multilevel involvement create the need for more complex procedures. Norton Leatherman Spine specialists have the experience and expertise to select the right procedure the first time. This helps to avoid poor outcomes or the need for additional surgeries.

Cervical Decompression

Depending on your case, our surgeons may perform a minimally invasive decompression to remove the overgrown ligament or bone spurs that cause your pain and difficulty with walking.

In a minimally invasive procedure, we make small incisions through which we can correct the cervical spinal stenosis. This eases pressure on the nerves and helps relieve pain.

A smaller incision means you can get back on your feet faster and resume living your life.

Cervical Decompression and Fusion

With spinal instability issues such as cervical spondylolisthesis or cervical kyphosis, your surgeon may need to restore spinal stability and alignment in order to allow effective decompression of the nerves and spinal cord. Norton Leatherman Spine surgeons have the training and experience to perform these procedures safely and effectively.

New advances such as robotic-assisted spinal surgery and computer-assisted navigation used at Norton Leatherman Spine allow for these more complicated procedures, with less recovery time and less postoperative pain. The decompression and fusion procedure can reduce pain and restore function by removing bone and ligament overgrowth compressing the nerves, while maintaining the spinal stability needed for full function.

About Norton Leatherman Spine

Norton Leatherman Spine is a combined team of orthopedic spine surgeons, neurosurgeons from Norton Neuroscience Institute and pain management specialists who provide care for adults and children from Louisville and Southern Indiana, as well as from across the region, nation and world.

  • The multidisciplinary team incorporates expertise from a variety of specialties to offer a comprehensive array of treatment options that include minimally invasive and nonsurgical therapies.
  • Our team approach to the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of spine conditions works cooperatively with primary care physicians and other specialists to develop a treatment plan as unique as each individual.
  • Because you may not need surgery, you may work with our pain management team, physical therapy specialists and others who can create a care plan with the right types of treatments for you.
  • If you need surgery, you’re in experienced hands. Norton Leatherman Spine physicians perform more than 4,000 surgeries a year.
  • Our team has more than 45 specialists at nearly 20 offices across Louisville and Southern Indiana. Many offer same-day appointments and Saturday hours, with no referral needed
  • Our specialists are internationally recognized leaders in clinical research of spinal disease, injury and deformity, and have served in senior positions in the Scoliosis Research Society, the most prestigious organization for scoliosis surgeons around the world.
  • Norton Healthcare is the first health system in the nation to be recognized as an Advanced Orthopedic & Spine Center of Excellence by DNV.
  • We offer minimally invasive and robotic-assisted procedures that carry less risk and can speed your recovery.
  • We use the EOS Imaging system, which collects high-resolution images while exposing the patient to 50% to 85% less radiation than traditional X-rays and 95% less than basic CT scans. The system is especially beneficial to scoliosis patients who often need repeated imaging to monitor their progress.
  • Use MyNortonChart to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more, anytime from a mobile device or computer

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