Neck discomfort is a multifactorial illness and a significant issue in today’s contemporary culture. Despite not being the most widespread musculoskeletal ailment, neck discomfort is substantial due to its age-standardized prevalence rate. You could suffer from cervical spinal stenosis if neck discomfort is a persistent problem.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is an illness that occurs when the space inside the backbone is insufficient. This results in the compression of the spinal cord and nerves that pass through the spine. A neurological problem can result from spinal cord compression, a condition called cervical stenosis with myelopathy.
Although stenosis of the cervical spine with myelopathy can develop anywhere along the spine, it most typically manifests in the neck and lower back. Those with severe cervical spinal stenosis may require surgery to create more room inside the spine. Patients may also experience less pressure on the spinal cord or nerves once receiving this operation.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Because there are occasionally no symptoms or indicators, it is possible to have spinal stenosis and be unaware of it. When cervical stenosis symptoms occur, they typically appear gradually and worsen over time. The patient’s symptoms differ based on which portion of the spine is injured.
Lower back spinal stenosis may cause leg discomfort or cramping in one or both legs. This occurs when you walk or stay still for an extended period. Symptoms can improve when you lean forward or sit down. Back pain and discomfort are another issue for some people with lower back spinal stenosis.
However, Cervical stenosis’s neurological symptoms include sciatica, neck discomfort, pain in one or both arms, spasms or shocks that travels down the back when the head moves, numbness, tingling, and bowel or bladder issues. Also, cervical spinal stenosis and walking problems are closely associated due to frequent paralysis in the hand, leg, foot, or arm.
Can cervical stenosis cause dizziness?
Numerous conditions might cause dizziness. These include stress, low blood pressure, vitamin deficiency, and even ear problems. Surprisingly, some research suggests that spinal cord problems—primarily spinal stenosis—may be the reason.
It’s crucial to understand that chronic neck strain and even minor spinal stenosis can cause generalized dizziness. Dizziness and neck discomfort are symptoms of cervicogenic dizziness, which occurs when it or the tissue around it is disturbed.
Spinal Stenosis Causes and Risk Factors
Although the causes of cervical stenosis can vary, it is predominantly due to advancing age. The majority of those who have spinal stenosis are over 50. However, younger people may have a higher chance of developing spinal stenosis if they have scoliosis, trauma, tumors, or other spinal conditions. Joint inflammation, spinal disc disintegration, and bony overgrowth are all potential consequences of repeated trauma and wearing out of spinal tissues, and they may all intrude into spinal canals.
Can spinal stenosis cause permanent paralysis?
Despite the possibility of discomfort, permanent paralysis is typically not a common side effect of spinal stenosis. Although cervical stenosis can cause many unpleasant symptoms, spinal stenosis is more dangerous if the spinal cord or spinal nerve is compressed for an extended time. Then, it can result in nerve loss and paralysis.
The cervical spinal stenosis disability rating might be as high as 100% if the entire spine is immobilized in an undesirable posture. The disability rating can be limited to 40% if the spine is locked in a beneficial posture. Depending on whichever spinal part is frozen, the impairment level may even be lower. The disability rating may be restricted to 30% for a cervical spine that has been frozen in a beneficial posture.
Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis and Tests
The diagnosis and testing for spinal stenosis vary greatly from patient to patient due to the severity of this condition. Although there is no known cure for this condition, there are things you can do to lessen the pain and improve flexibility. The therapy type you receive will depend on how much your quality of life is impacted by spinal stenosis.
How Your Doctor Diagnoses Cervical Spinal Stenosis
For spinal stenosis, your doctor will often need a 3-step procedure to diagnose accurately. The evaluation of spinal stenosis in most patients starts with an observation of medical history followed by a thorough physical and neurological examination and confirmation imaging testing. Electrodiagnostic testing and injections are two more diagnostic procedures experts might utilize to determine whether a particular spinal nerve is affected.
- Patient Medical History – Your medical history, which may include family history, is thoroughly reviewed by your spine expert. If one or both parents have a history of neck or back discomfort, the chance of developing certain spinal problems may increase. In general, lifestyle, past spine operations, treatments, and underlying medical issues are important for your doctor to be aware of.
- Physical Examinations – A medical expert examines and feels the spine during the physical examination for any anomalies and areas of edema, soreness, and discomfort. Testing may also determine whether actions or postures might aggravate the pain and further nerve compression. They watch how you move and stand, as well as your posture. For example, they may test your flexibility and spinal range of motion by having you bend forward, backward, and to the side.
- Medical Imaging – Even though the patient’s history and physical examination may point to it, medical imaging is required to confirm the diagnosis of spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is identified when imaging demonstrates narrowing of the intervertebral foramen and vertebral foramen that is consistent with the patient’s symptoms. The most frequent imaging test for diagnosing spinal stenosis is an MRI, although in situations when an MRI is not an option, a CT may be performed. It’s also important to note that many people normally have spinal stenosis, according to what experts can observe in medical imaging, but do not exhibit any symptoms and do not require therapy.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Although there is no cure, you can cope with spinal stenosis in several ways. The type of cervical stenosis treatment you receive will depend on what is causing your symptoms, where the problem is, and how severe they are.
The muscles in your arms and upper legs, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip adductors and abductors, may grow and maintain strength with regular exercise. As a result, your capacity to walk, bend, and move around will improve your ability to manage discomfort.
A physiotherapist can assist you in finding spinal stenosis exercises that will improve your balance, increase your strength and endurance, and keep your spine flexible and stable. They will also be able to advise you on which spinal stenosis exercises to avoid.
Pain can also be relieved by over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox). A rheumatologist may also recommend additional drugs to treat pain and muscular spasms.
Cortisone injections (corticosteroid injections)
Direct injections into the spinal cord region are referred to as epidural injections, and they can offer significant temporary and occasionally permanent relief. Usually, these injections are administered to patients on an outpatient basis at a hospital or clinic.
A decompression laminectomy may be an option for certain otherwise healthy people with severe or increasing symptoms. This procedure creates room for the nerves and spinal cord by removing the bony spurs and bone accumulation in the spinal canal. After that, medical professionals frequently conduct a spinal fusion to join two or more vertebrae and improve the spine’s stability.
Recent research has shown that surgery outperforms nonsurgical therapy in the short term. Results can vary, though, and this surgery has hazards like any other. Blood clots in the head or legs, tears in the spinal cord’s protective covering, infections, and nerve root damage are a few of these hazards. In addition, surgery may provide some relief, but it won’t treat osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis, and symptoms may return.
Spinal Stenosis Home Remedies
While there are medical treatments for cervical stenosis, experts agree that several home remedies can help you cope with the condition.
Exercise and stretching, ideally in ways that involve the whole body, including the back, are one of the best methods to prevent back discomfort and spinal compression. Whether you are searching for spinal stenosis exercises or have pre-determined routines from your physician, combining aerobic workouts with bodyweight exercises can help reduce general inflammation, increase muscular strength, and keep your joints flexible.
Stretching the spine is a natural approach to releasing tense muscles, keeping agile, and is useful in preventing injuries or stiffness. In addition to warming up before exercise, stretching is crucial after exercise. Stretching can be an incredibly helpful approach to releasing tension.
Good posture helps preserve the spine and lowers overall back stress when standing, sitting, or exercising. Slouching can lead to sprains around the spine.
Weight loss can lessen the strain of carrying weight on the lumbar spine and lessen or avoid stenosis. A nutritious diet also aids in maintaining muscle mass and guards against problems or extremely high levels of inflammation that might cause discomfort and pain.
There is a chance of complications with any surgical treatment, including receiving an anesthetic. Although death is extremely unlikely in cervical stenosis, you can be more susceptible to specific side effects depending on the type of neck surgery you have. However small the danger may be, cervical stenosis patients risk experiencing problems such as nerve damage, infection, bleeding, or blood clots.