Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Resolving Cervical Spine Stenosis with Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique

Spinal Stenosis of the Cervical Spine is a common, potentially debilitating source of neck and arm pain characterized by an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal.  This abnormal narrowing is usually associated with degenerative conditions of the spine such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease (which is why it usually occurs in older individuals).  While the degeneration of the spine can be a source of neck pain, the bigger concern is the narrowing of the spinal canal.  This narrowing can compress the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness in the shoulders and arms.

Stenosis of the Cervical Spine can be a difficult condition to treat both conservatively, as well as surgically.  Fortunately, Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for neck pain, including Cervical Stenosis.  In fact, Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief where there are few other effective treatment options available. But before we talk about how Cox Technique works so effectively, it is helpful to first discuss what Cervical Spine Stenosis is and how it develops in the first place.

Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief for neck and arm pain patients when there are few other effective treatment options available.

Basic Anatomy of the Spine – Bones, Discs, and the Spinal Canal

The neck – anatomically referred to as the cervical spine – consists of a series of spinal bones stacked together to form a moveable column. These spinal bones are called vertebrae, and between each vertebra is a soft, circular pad known as an intervertebral disc.  These discs act as spacers between each vertebra and make the neck more flexible.  Running down the center of the spine is a long hollow tunnel known as the spinal canal.  The spinal cord is housed within the spinal canal, and as the spinal cord descends within this canal it gives off nerve branches at each vertebral level.   These nerve branches then exit the spine though the intervertebral foramen, which are small holes on the side of the spine formed between each adjacent vertebrae.  In the case of the cervical spine, each of these exiting nerves will travel downwards to supply the skin, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and joints of each shoulder and arm.

How Does Cervical Spine Stenosis Develop?

Under normal circumstances, there is ample space within the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen for the spinal cord and exiting nerve branches.  However, as we age there are several events that can occur which can cause these spaces to become narrowed.

 1. Spinal Degeneration

One the most significant conditions leading to cervical stenosis is joint degeneration (this can include degenerative disc disease, or degeneration/osteoarthritis of the neck).  Spinal degeneration is associated with extra bone grow around areas of stress or overload.  This extra bone growth, or osteophytes, take up space and lead to narrowing of the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen.

 2. Disc Bulge/Disc Degeneration

Between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc.  As we age these discs can become thinner, which in will reduce the space between each verterbrae and lead to narrowing of the intervertebral foramen.  In addition, as the disc thins it will start to bulge outwards, further compromising space within the spinal canal.

As the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen become narrowed it will begin to compress the neural structures within these spaces, eventually leading to neck and/or arm pain symptoms, including pain, numbness, and possibly weakness into the hand or arm.

Treatment – Resolving Cervical Stenosis with Cox Flexion-Distraction

When treating Cervical Stenosis, the goal is restore as much normal function and mobility to the neck, and to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and damaged nerve branches.  While Cervcial Stenosis can be a difficult condition to treat both conservatively, as well as surgically, Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for neck pain and dysfunction, including Cervical Stenosis.

 Here’s how Cox Technique works…

Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the spine. With the patient lying face down on the table, the headpiece of the table can be slowly pulled down and away. This motion lengthens the cervical portion of the spine, which pulls the vertebrae away from each other and opens up the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen.  This in turn “decompresses” the spinal cord and damaged nerve roots.   As the spine stretches the doctor is able to focus the decompres­sion at the specific levels of the cervical spine isc by applying a focal pressure to the damaged area with a specialized hand contact. The ability to direct the distraction effect to the exact level of the irritated spinal cord/nerve root makes Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment more effec­tive than traditional distraction therapies or cervical traction devices which apply only a general traction, and do not provide feedback to doctor with respect to the health of the disc and cervical joints. Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 seconds. This process is usually repeated three to four times.

 Research studies reported that 80% of disc herniations in the cervical and lumbar spine were helped by flexion-distraction adjustment, with 63% of cases demonstrating a significant reduction in the size of the herniation on follow-up MRI imaging (JMPT)

The decompression of the cervical spine achieved with Cox Flexion-Distraction has a number of important effects which help to reduce pain and promote healing of the damaged spinal joint and nerves.  For example, this procedure has been shown to dramatically reduce pressure with the intervertebral disc which reduces pain and stimulates healing of the damaged or degenerated disc.  This reduction in intra-discal pressure also creates a vacuum effect within the disc which acts to pull the herniated Nucleus back towards the centre of the disc.  This decompression also relieves pressure on the damaged nerves, help to restore normal blood flow and reduce inflammation and irritation in the nerves.   Home stretches and exercises are also an important part of the treatment process, initially focusing on pain management, with stretching and strengthening exercises being added as pain and tolerance improve.  The goal of the exercise plan is to increase neck flexibility and strengthen the cervical spine in a position that creates more space within the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen.

An example of Cox Treatment. The doctor applies a specialized hand contact on the neck while the headpiece moves down and away to decompress the disc.

Get Relief with Cox Technique

To book an appointment to see if Cox Flexion-Distraction will be able to help with your cervical spine stenosis, neck pain, or arm pain simply call our office at (902) 407-7207. For more information send us an email at info@KinetesisSpineandJoint.ca