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Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is cervical spinal stenosis?

Cervical spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal in your neck. Your spinal canal holds your spinal cord. When your spinal canal narrows, it may put pressure on your spinal cord. Cervical spinal stenosis is a chronic (long-term) condition.

Vertebral Column

What causes cervical spinal stenosis?

Cervical spinal stenosis is usually caused by the breakdown of discs in your cervical spine. Discs are tough, spongy cushions between your vertebrae (bones) that help move your neck. This breakdown naturally happens as you age. Problems with the muscles or bones in your neck may also cause cervical spinal stenosis. The vertebrae in your spine may weaken and slip out of place. Ligaments in your neck may thicken and harden. Accidents or injuries can also damage your vertebrae and narrow your spinal canal.

What are the signs and symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis?

You may have no signs or symptoms. If your spinal canal is very narrow, your signs and symptoms may be worse. You may have any of the following:

How is cervical spinal stenosis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. He or she will check the feeling, strength, and movement of your arms and legs. An x-ray, MRI or a CT may show problems in your cervical spine that are causing spinal stenosis. You may be given contrast liquid to help the area show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is cervical spinal stenosis treated?

How can I manage my symptoms?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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