Cervical Degenerative Problems and Stenosis
Degenerative changes of the neck resemble arthritis, with thickening of soft-tissues and bone spur formation. These bulky ligaments and bone spurs encroach upon the canals containing the nerves and the spinal cord within the spine of the neck, causing nerve and/or spinal cord compression. The degenerative changes may themselves cause neck and shoulder pain, whilst the nerve compression gives pain in one or both arms This pain may be associated with weakness and numbness in the arms or hands. If the spinal cord is compressed, there can be loss of coordination of the hands and legs. Symptoms of degeneration of the spine may build up slowly or start suddenly. Often, they will settle with altered activity, physiotherapy, exercises and medication. Sometimes a cortisone injection is useful.
Surgery is used for unrelenting pain in the arm or for obvious damage to the spinal cord. There are a number of procedures that can be used for this condition and the choice is based on associated symptoms and the appearance of scans. These procedures may be performed through incisions on the front or the back of the neck. Sometimes fusion is used as part of releasing the pressure on the nerves and/or spinal cord and stabilising the neck. Most people having this type of surgery on the neck return home after 3 or 4 nights in hospital.