Cervical stenosis

The human spine represents the literal backbone of our bodies it is better compared to a control center that processes all the commands sent out by our brains. Although it is well protected and encased in bone structures called vertebrae, it is also very sensitive to all kinds of physical trauma and even more-so to plain wear and tear.

One of the conditions that affect our spine is cervical stenosis, a condition in which the spinal canal gets narrowed for one reason or another. It is important to note that stenosis can occur in other regions of the spine as well and that it isn’t relegated to only affecting the cervical vertebrae. All spinal conditions can turn out to be very serious medical problems and cervical stenosis is not an exception.

Probably the most common cause for this spinal condition is simply the aging process. As we age the buffer zones between our vertebrae, known as discs, start losing their flexibility and this means that the vertebrae start compressing them.

Another cause for cervical stenosis is a growth of bone spurs on the inside of a person’s vertebrae, and these in turn push into the spinal canal causing it to narrow.

The symptoms of cervical stenosis range from feelings of numbness and tingling in the back of the head or upper back to frequent shooting pains caused by the nerves that are being squeezed in the spinal canal (which has been narrowed). At the onset of the condition these symptoms come and go, but it is absolutely vital to visit your doctor even if they are intermittent as they can be the starting point of serious long-term problems.

Treatments for cervical stenosis can be operative or non-operative and this depends largely on the stage the stenosis is at. Detecting this condition early can prove to be crucial both in mitigating its symptoms and causes as well as preventing its advancement. In the case of advanced stages of the condition surgery may be the only option. However, most other cases are considered mild and there are several treatments and therapies which do not include the surgical option.

When talking about cervical stenosis therapy it is worth mentioning the fact that the therapy itself does nothing to decrease the amout that the spinal canal narrows or to somehow return it to its normal shape and size. Cervical stenosis therapy is focused more on managing the pain in the long-term and enabling the patients to effectively control their pain so that they can function normally without having to use the surgical option.

The therapy consists of a variety of physical exercises designed to improve the flexibility of the neck, the arms and the legs while also improving the circulation in these areas of the body. It is important to increase the endurance of the arms and the legs with cardiovascular exercises such as swimming and running. Most of these exercises will be supervised by therapy specialists, but there will be some of them that you can do on your own when you are at home. If the case asks for it, then the pain and symptoms can also be managed through the use of anti-inflammatory medications and pain-killers.

Cervical stenosis therapy will usually have to last for at least three months and in some cases much more than that. However, if there is no improvement in one’s condition after the prescribed time the only remaining option is the surgical one.

The surgical option can take different forms and it can be minimally invasive in some cases, while in others it will require open surgical techniques.

Last updated on May 10th, 2010 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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