(1) The openings where the spinal cord branches off out to the body. These are called “inter-vertebral foramina or “neural foramina.” These are the nerve passageways formed in between the interlocking vertebrae the nerve roots exist in these canals.
Bulging or herniated discs can create Stenosis too. If the cushioning spinal disc bulges or herniates, the disc material protrudes out into the space of the spinal canal or the nerve roots. There is a difference between Stenosis caused by bone, and Stenosis caused by discs. Bony Stenosis is a physical loss of space for the nerves to live. Disc-based Stenosis is a narrowing of the nerve space by an “invading” tissue.
The “hidden” type of cervical Stenosis
In my colleagues and my experience, there is a type of cervical spinal Stenosis that is virtually ignored. The scary part to me is that it’s possibly the most important and the most common…
Upper Cervical Stenosis
This is narrowing of the spinal canal at the top of the neck (upper cervical spine), caused by very small misalignments of the first vertebra (the Atlas bone), relative to the skull and the spine below it. This type of Stenosis is the primary focus of my practice. An entire section of my website is devoted to this.
Either way, Stenosis can interfere with nerve function and make you feel miserable.
Does cervical spinal Stenosis always cause neck pain and other symptoms?
No. In fact, one can have severe Stenosis and have no pain at all. We can’t assume that just because a nerve pathway is narrowed that nerve function is affected. In my practice I can recall dozens of cases of severe Stenosis—confirmed by x-ray and MRI… that were able to be relieved of their pain by non-surgical and drugless means. The bony Stenosis was still present, but the pain was gone. That means that there are other causes of pain beyond what sometimes LOOKS like the cause. Cervical spinal Stenosis can take years or even decades to become severe enough to compress the spinal cord or nerve roots, and finally result in symptoms.
How is cervical spinal stenosis diagnosed?
Health history and physical examination are the starting point. X-rays, MRI and CT scans may be used to hone in on the diagnosis. Sometimes blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions including ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), nutritional deficiencies, etc.
How is it treated?
Conventional medical treatment typically involves pain medication prescribed by a physician. Others are given physical therapy exercises. Surgery may be done to try to widen the narrowed space. While I appreciate the role of such common approaches, I do not use them. In my practice I treat Stenosis with various non-surgical and drugless procedures.
This of course, does not mean that I accept everyone as a patient.
Let's face it: nobody WANTS surgery, but some people simply need it. Even though I’ve had great success helping people with spinal stenosis; some get referred to orthopedic or neurological surgeons. I don’t treat people unless I have evidence that my procedures might help. Spinal Stenosis can be a very tricky condition. I have successfully treated people who were assured that the Stenosis was the cause of their pain…but it was not.
Remember: one can have Stenosis without pain… and one can have no Stenosis and have lots of pain.