Stenosis is narrowing of the openings it can be of the spinal canal, and that is usually from a herniated disk, or of the opening through which the nerve roots that come off the spinal cord exit through, this can be from either a herniated or bulging disk or from oseophites (bone spurs) or from the bone its self that has grown and causing the opening through the vertebra to narrow! In any case when they do surgery they can remove the disk all, or just part of it, if they remove all of it, then they roughen up, the surface of both the vertebra above and below the disk that they removed, and then they put in graft bone ( either your own or donor bone) in that space where your disk was and then that causes the vertebra to all grow together, so instead of having two vertebra separated by a disk ( tough but rubbery cartilage) you now have one huge vertebra. and the space beteen the two is all solid bone. When they do this now they usually use cadaver donor bone, and put a plate that hold the two vertebra in place and anchor the plate in place with titanium screws, that are screwed into the vertebra top and bottom! This can limit flexibiltity in your neck, if you get more than one fusion done.
If it is not the disk causing the stenosis, they can go in and cut out the bone spurs, or part of the bone, and thus increase the size of the opening for the nerves go through, and this I believe is called a laminectomy!
You know I was born in 1951 and I had my first fusion in 1985 so I was about your age maybe a bit younger when I had my first surgery! It is scary and I really do empathize with you! I also have bad disk and stenosis in my thoracic and lumbar area. The thoracic area they will not touch, They say the surgery is much to dangerous, and I have a herniated and torn disk at T-12, I also have bone spurs and stenosis at T-3 and T-8 ! The surgeon told me over ten years ago, that as long as I could move and get around then they would control the pain and make me comfortable and that is it! I have had some epidural injections in the thoracic area, but not many doctors are trained or willing to give them in that area. Those ones are painfull! I also have herniated disk at L4-5, and stenosis at L-2/3/4. So I do have some idea of what you are going through. I really do understand the fear you must have with having walking difficulities, I use a cane! Do you have any problems with your arms or hands?, weakness? spasms? movement problems with your arms or hands? I have difficuties with my arms and hands, I used to do sculpture, but I have problems doing that anymore, so I gave it up!
You are young "finallyreallycrazy" and all this must seem devastating and a bit overwhelming to you. You will never have to like the hand that you have been dealt in life, but you do have to accept it. Hang in there, and just take one day at a time, you will make it through this! Yes! You do, also have a family here, a family that cares allot you, and will listen and give you support! So you are definitely not alone in this!!!!
I do wish you well!
Straydog you are right about the disk in the neck not causing problems with walking if the disks are just causing problems with the nerve roots. How ever if the stenosis is of the spinal cord its self, then that is another story, I believe that could cause problems with walking, and possibly other things as well depending on what part of the spinal cord is affected. The trauma I had to my spinal cord and the way it was squeezed and bent out of shape they did not know why I could even move at all, and yet all I had was severe pain in my arms and hands. Everyone is so different and reacts so differently. I will be interested to hear what they have found,