A pain in the neck? Maybe. Cervical spinal stenosis is sometimes asymptomatic, with no indication that there’s anything wrong.
But if you’re over 50, you’re the most likely candidate to have this condition, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal causing impingement of the nerves and eventual pain.
Usually caused by arthritis, cervical spinal stenosis may also cause the spaces between the discs to become smaller. The concurrent narrowing of the spinal canal can provoke pressure on the system of nerves in the spine and the spinal cord itself.
Pain, numbness and tingling may be provoked in the extremities or torso. So, do you have cervical spinal stenosis? Read on.
As mentioned above, the most common cause of cervical spinal stenosis is arthritis. But the condition may also arise as the result of an injury, herniated discs, tumors or Paget’s Disease. With Paget’s, bones become brittle and overgrown, impinging on soft tissue, including nerves.
Spinal stenosis may also be congenital or linked to any of the conditions mentioned. In cases like these, cervical spinal stenosis can manifest at any time but is most commonly seen in patients aged 30 to 50.
Many people with cervical spinal stenosis have no symptoms. The symptomatic profile of the condition, though, includes the following:
- Weakness in the legs causing one or both feet to “slap” as you walk.
- Difficulty standing or walking. These activities may exacerbate compression in the discs, causing pain.
Seeking a diagnosis
If you’re experiencing these symptoms or other signs that your cervical vertebrae may be compromised by spinal stenosis, seeking a diagnosis is recommended.
Your doctor will review your medical history with you, then order one or several imaging tests to provide clarity.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for cervical spinal stenosis, but it can be managed successfully with a variety of therapeutic strategies.
Medications can help with pain. These include acetaminophen-based, over the counter medications and over the counter anti-inflammatories.
Prescribed pharmaceutical therapies include muscle relaxants and medications to control seizures. Muscle spasms can be controlled, as well as the fallout of nerve damage caused by cervical spinal stenosis.
Corticosteroid injections are to be deployed with caution to reduce the inflammation caused by the condition, which serves to reduce pain. A nerve-blocking anesthetic may also be injected into the affected area.
Doctor-directed exercise may be supportive for strengthening the muscles and increasing flexibility. For this style of treatment, your doctor will recommend a physical therapist.
Finally, chiropractic and acupuncture are complementary disciplines which can be useful for some patients, when recommended by your physician.
Surgery is only recommended in the most extreme cases of spinal stenosis and these are generally associated with the lumbar manifestation of the condition.
Spine Consult NJ
At Spine Consult NJ, we treat all conditions of the spine, employing a wide spectrum of treatment models, from conservative to surgical.
Our goal is to restore patients to full function and a renewed quality of life. Contact us to schedule a consultation.