Cervical Spinal Stenosis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Cervical Spinal Stenosis (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Cervical spinal stenosis (CSS) is narrowing of the spinal canal in your neck. Your spinal canal holds your spinal cord. Your spinal cord controls your ability to move. When your spinal canal narrows, it may put pressure on your spinal cord.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Steroid injections may cause you to have a headache. They also may damage your spinal cord. This may cause worse weakness, shooting pain, or muscle spasms in your arms or legs. Surgery on your spine may cause neck pain. You also may have a hard time swallowing. Your nerves and spinal cord may become damaged, and you may lose some ability to move. Your surgery may not open your spinal canal fully. Surgery may not relieve all the pressure on your spinal cord. Surgery may be life-threatening.

  • Without treatment, you may have worsening signs and symptoms, such as burning neck pain, numbness, and weakness. It may be hard for you to do your normal daily activities. The pain may make it hard for you to sleep, or it may change your mood. You also may have trouble working or doing chores, such as lifting or carrying things. Cervical myelopathy may develop over time. This is when your spinal canal is pinched, causing the nerve cells to be damaged. You may not be able to control when you urinate or have a bowel movement. In rare cases, you may become paralyzed.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Muscle relaxers: This medicine helps relax your muscles. It is also given to decrease pain and muscle spasms.

  • Steroid medicine: This medicine is given as a shot into your neck to decrease pain and swelling.

  • Nerve block: A nerve block is a shot of numbing medicine that makes you lose feeling in an area of your body. You may need a nerve block if your pain is not going away, or is getting worse.

Treatments:

  • Physical and occupational therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function. Occupational therapy (OT) uses work, self-care, and other normal daily activities to help you function better in your daily life. OT helps you develop skills to improve your ability to bathe, dress, cook, eat, and drive. You may learn to use special tools to help you with your daily activities. You may also learn new ways to keep your home or workplace safe.

  • Radiofrequency: This treatment uses electrodes to send signals to different parts of your body. These electrodes send electrical heat signals to your nerves. The heat of radiofrequency helps to ease your pain.

  • Spinal cord stimulation: This treatment is also called SCS. With SCS, a small device is placed near your spine during surgery. The device sends electrical pulses to a certain area of the spinal cord. SCS may help relieve your pain and help you function better.

  • Surgery: You may need surgery to widen your spinal canal or to decrease pressure on your spinal cord. Surgery also may be done to fix damaged or injured vertebrae in your neck. You may need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before surgery to find the exact area that needs to be fixed.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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