How does COVID-19 impact upcoming appointments?
During this time of public health concern, Ohio State Spine Care remains open, but many appointments may take place via telehealth wherever it's possible and appropriate. For all in-person visits, you can feel confident that our locations are safe. We've taken significant measures to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and worked tirelessly to ensure that our patients are protected. Please call our office at 614-293-BACK(2225) to schedule. Be sure to visit our special COVID-19 patient and Telehealth webpages for more information.
Cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy treatment
Ohio State Spine Care offers multiple options for the treatment of cervical spinal stenosis.
Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and nerves, and allows you to stand and bend. Cervical spinal stenosis is the narrowing in your upper spine due to wear and tear. The narrowing in the neck area puts pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain and disability.
Cervical spinal stenosis can lead to myelopathy, damage resulting from the spinal cord being compressed due to narrowing of ligaments, bones and discs surrounding the spinal cord.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis occurs most often in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal also are at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can worsen spinal stenosis. Some people have no symptoms. Others might have symptoms that appear gradually or suddenly, especially after a fall. These symptoms may include:
- Pain in your neck or back
- Numbness, cramping or burning pain in your arms or legs
- Balance problems
- Weakness and lack of coordination in the fingers, hands, arms and legs
Doctors diagnose cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy with a careful history, physical and neurological exams, and imaging tests. Treatments include medication, physical therapy and surgery.
Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Diagnosing cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy
As part of your thorough history and physical exam, we use the Modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale—an international standard—to assess the severity of your spinal cord damage. The scale measures extremity numbness, weakness and coordination problems; bladder and bowel problems; fine motor skills of the hands; and balance issues.
We routinely use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine to give us high-resolution pictures of the spinal cord and surrounding tissues.
Treating cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy
Ohio State offers treatments ranging from physical therapy to the most complex neck and spine surgeries. Our physicians, therapists and other caregivers provide you with options that increase mobility and reduce pain. Most people who come to Ohio State Spine Care don’t require surgery.
One of Ohio State’s strengths is our physical therapy program, with therapists who specialize in complex, degenerative spine conditions. Following a thorough examination of posture, neck mobility, strength and flexibility, our physical therapists customize a plan for you. We take into account any impairments or functional limitations you have. Typically, you’ll work one-on-one with a therapist on pain-relieving movement strategies and on improvements in balance, strength and flexibility.
Additional nonsurgical treatments include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications and neuropathic (nerve injury) pain medications for symptoms of burning, tingling and numbness
- Education on neck care and recommendations for specific needs (such as job demands, recreational activities, home setup)
- Real-time ultrasound imaging (RUSI) of movement in the spine area to retrain the deep stabilizing musculature of your spine (a highly researched, evidence-based intervention)
- Training to restore balance and prevent falls
- Weight loss guidance, emphasizing healthier eating and exercise to ease pressure on the spine
- Pilates, yoga and aquatic therapy to strengthen back muscles
Acupuncture (provided at Ohio State Spine Care) or dry needling for pain control through Ohio State’s Center for Integrative Medicine.
You may need surgery if you have moderate to severe cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy. Surgery can prevent further spinal cord damage and perhaps allow the spinal cord to recover over time, with the aid of physical therapy.
We may conduct additional studies as we evaluate you for surgery:
- Electromyography (EMG), which can detect muscle weakness due to nerve problems
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Ohio State’s spine specialists perform more than 500 complex spine surgeries a year, more than anywhere in central Ohio. We use the least invasive surgery possible to protect your spinal cord from progressive damage:
- Decompression surgery, which can be performed from the front or back of the neck
- Laminectomy is performed from back of the neck, removes part of the vertebra (neck bone) and relieves pressure on your spinal cord. Our surgeon may use metallic plates and screws to prevent slippage of one vertebra over another.
- Spinal cord decompression from the front is performed by removing bone and a disc or discs and fusing vertebrae.
- Spinal fusion surgery is sometimes used in the laminectomy procedure to fuse vertebrae and restore stability to the spinal column; for cord decompression from the front, spinal fusion and using metallic plates and screws are always part of the procedure.