In most cases, cervical stenosis or radiculopathy will resolve in 6-12 weeks with appropriate treatment and lifestyle modifications. In some cases, however, surgery will be necessary to correct the dysfunction. Left untreated, nerve compression can become a permanent disability.
In less severe cases, patients will typically be advised on lifestyle modifications that may be made to reduce the progression of disease. In addition, ice applied to the painful areas, physical therapy practices, and over the counter anti-inflammatory medication may be taken in the course of managing this condition. Rarely, these measures will be inadequate for managing the pain associated with this condition, in which case prescription anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic analgesics, muscle relaxants, and corticosteroid injections may be necessary to achieve satisfactory pain control.
In patients for whom non-operative measures are still unable to provide adequate relief, surgery may be an option to consider. Your surgeon may recommend operating on the front or back of the neck, depending on the localization of stenosis. Problematic bone spurs may be removed, and modifications may be made to the vertebrae themselves to provide more space for the spinal cord. To stabilize the vertebral column after such procedures, metal screws or plates may also be used.
Upon initial evaluation, physical examination, patient history, and some basic neurological testing will be performed to evaluate current functioning. X-rays may be ordered, in which degenerative discs and slippage of the vertebrae may be visible. MRI is another option which provides greater detail of structures that could be applying pressure to the spinal cord. In addition to imaging, nerve conduction testing may be necessary to isolate the exact cause of patient symptoms.
DAY OF SURGERY INFORMATION
Drive to the South parking garage. Free Valet parking is available during business hours. If you self-park, take the elevator from the garage to the first floor to enter the main hospital lobby. Wheelchairs are available if needed. Take the D elevator to the 2nd floor. Proceed to the Surgical and Endoscopy Check-In Desk. Here you and your family will be checked in and escorted to the Pre-op Area to be prepared for surgery. Up to two family members may wait with you until you are taken to surgery. Your family may then wait in the Surgical Waiting room until notified by the surgeon that the surgery has been completed. A receptionist will take down contact information so that your family may be easily reached to speak with Dr. Paul. Complimentary coffee is available for your family while in the Surgical Waiting room. The cafeteria and gift shop are on the ground floor in the North area of the hospital and the coffee shop is in the South area of the hospital for your family’s convenience.
In the preoperative room you will be prepared for surgery. The team will be checking your vital signs, starting your IV, validating your medications, health history, lab results and any follow up for additional testing needed. At this time, they will obtain your consent for surgery and answer any questions you may still have. Your anesthesiologist will see you and your family prior to your surgery. Dr. Paul, Adam or Kevin will mark your surgical site. You will be escorted to the operating room by cart. Your family can wait in the surgical waiting room. Dr. Paul will call them when surgery is completed. If he can not reach them, he will leave a message with the Patient Liaison. Following surgery you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where you will recover for an hour or more. During this time, pain and nausea control will be established and your vital signs will be monitored frequently.