Neck stenosis can range from being a minor issue that resolves itself with little or no intervention, to a painful condition that requires surgery. Spinal stenosis of the neck is treatable by your New York City sports medicine doctor. Neck stenosis treatment in Manhattan always begins with the least invasive techniques to get you back to normal as quickly as possible. Come to our sports injury and pain management clinic to get your neck pain evaluation and treatment.
The spinal column — containing the spinal cord, the vertebrae, accompanying discs and the long branches of nerves — all fit into a compact, tight space. Any trauma or disease affecting this column can cause symptoms ranging from the mildly irritating to the excruciating.
Spinal stenosis of the neck involves the narrowing of the spaces within the vertebrae of your neck, putting pressure on the nerves that travel through and exit the spinal column. Stenosis can occur in your lower back as well, but the tighter space of the neck makes it particularly susceptible. Most people who experience neck stenosis are over the age of 50, though there are rare cases of a congenital condition.
Neck Stenosis Basics
Neck stenosis can result from a variety of causes, such as:
- The wear and tear of aging
- Overgrowth of bone to form bone spurs
- Herniated discs
- Thickened ligaments, the tough cords holding the bones of the spine together, that bulge into the spinal column
- Age-related destruction of cartilage
Additionally, spinal injuries – such as car accidents, falls, sports injuries or other traumas – cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. The displaced bone or swollen tissue puts pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.
Symptoms of Neck Stenosis
Some individuals have neck stenosis and are asymptomatic, meaning they experience absolutely no symptoms. Others have mild to moderate symptoms, but some can be debilitating. These symptoms can include:
- Neck pain
- Tingling or numbness in your hands, arms, feet or legs
- Weakness in hands, arms, feet or legs
- Problems with walking or balance
- Severe cases may result in bowel or bladder dysfunction
Complications of Untreated Spinal Stenosis of the Neck
While minor herniated discs may resolve on their own, most of the other reasons spinal stenosis of the neck forms require some kind of medical treatment. If left untreated, the narrowing compression can lead to permanent disability, numbness, weakness, balance problems, incontinence and even paralysis.
Your NYC sports and pain specialist diagnoses neck stenosis by combining information from one or more of the following procedures:
- A complete medical history
- An explanation of the extent of your symptoms
- Onset description2
- Physical exam
- X-rays of the cervical vertebra
- Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI
- Computed tomography or CT scan
- Blood work to rule out multiple sclerosis or vitamin B12 deficiency
Conservative Neck Stenosis Treatment
If you’re asymptomatic or your symptoms are mild, exercise and self-care — including modified activity and rest — may be sufficient. If these don’t help, your doctor may suggest:
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen
- Anti-depressants used for chronic pain anti-seizure drugs like gabapentin and pregabain that reduce pain caused by damaged nerves
- Opioids such as codeine-related drugs for short-term use
- Physical therapy to build strength and endurance, maintain flexibility and improve balance
- Steroid injections to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain
Aggressive Neck Stenosis Treatment
If conservative methods aren’t giving you the relief you need from the pain, tingling and discomfort of spinal stenosis, your NYC pain specialist has surgical options available:
- This procedure removes the back part (lamina) or the thickened ligament of the affected vertebra. This eases the pressure on your nerves and may be done in conjunction with spinal fusion for spine strength.
- This procedure also removes part of the lamina, but usually through a hole just large enough for pressure release.
- A hinge is created on the lamina with metal hardware bridging the gap.
The goal of the surgery is to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots by creating more space within the spinal canal. As with any surgery, risks are present. Possible risks include the pain continuing or worsening, a tear in the membrane that covers your spinal cord, blood clots in a leg vein or neurological deterioration.
Aftercare and Beyond
After neck stenosis surgery, recovery time takes four to six weeks. As you heal, you may need to incorporate a combination of the following on a regular basis:
- Pain relievers, especially the over-the-counter variety
- Hot or cold packs
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising to include stretching and strengthening motions
- Cane or walker use to allow you to bend forward while walking, reducing pressure
The goal of your Manhattan pain specialist is to search for the neck stenosis treatment that gives you the most relief of your symptoms. He finds treatments that work to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen. Healthy and honest communication with your doctor about your lifestyle, history and symptoms makes you an active partner in your neck and spine health.
Do you have any questions about the neck stenosis pain treatment we offer in NYC? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best rated neck pain doctor Febin Melepura MD of sports pain management clinic NYC? Please contact our office for consultation with the top pain relief specialist in Midtown Manhattan.