Cervical spinal stenosis is a condition that causes narrowing of the neck region of the spine. This narrowing can compress the nerves causing pain and discomfort. The symptoms are caused by the misalignment/subluxation of the neck, which is usually the c1 and c2 vertebrae. Misalignments can be caused by daily wear and tear; injuries and tumors can cause or worsen the condition. Cervical spinal stenosis is a severe condition that worsens as time progresses and can cause permanent damage and paralysis. Chiropractor recommendations and non-invasive techniques can alleviate the symptoms, along with therapeutic stretches and exercises, and diet is all part of a personalized treatment plan.
The most common symptom is neck pain. Doctors recommend avoiding all activities that worsen the pain; however, chiropractors suggest remaining as active as possible to keep the muscles strong. This is because inactivity over time can lead to muscular deterioration around the neck. Other symptoms besides neck pain include:
- Neck discomfort and pain
- Numbness, tingling in the shoulder, arm, hand
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Walking problems
Pain Or Stiffness In The Neck Should Not Be Ignored
- Pain or stiffness in the neck that worsens rapidly or does not ease up or go away after two weeks requires medical attention.
- Ignoring or dismissing the pain or stiffness can worsen the condition.
Looking Down At A Phone Too Long
- Looking down too long increases the strain on the neck.
- Keeping the head forward for extended periods increases the chances of pinching/compressing nerves and causing radiculopathy.
Exercises That Roll The Neck Around
- Exercises that roll or pull the neck are not advised as they can exacerbate the condition.
- A chiropractor will recommend specific neck stretches and exercises on a case-by-case basis.
Heavy Bag, Purse, BackPack On One Shoulder
- It is recommended to carry a backpack with both shoulders to distribute the weight evenly.
- Over time, a backpack, bag, or purse on the same shoulder will disrupt the walk cycle and pull down on one side of the neck, exacerbating cervical spinal stenosis.
- For bags and purses with one strap, it is recommended to alternate shoulders or use a crossbody strap.
Sleeping On The Stomach
- Sleeping on the stomach means having to turn the neck to one side.
- This stresses and aggravates cervical stenosis.
- It is recommended to sleep on the side or back.
Treatment, Therapy, and Rehabilitation
- Chiropractic is recommended for spinal stenosis because it corrects and re-aligns dislocated and herniated discs and decompresses the spine.
- Treatment reduces pressure on the spinal cord and its joints and nerve networks.
- Various techniques include physiotherapeutic massage, spinal adjustments, cervical traction, spinal decompression, and flexion-distraction, which will address stenosis symptoms, treat pain, reduce inflammation, numbness, and restore muscle function.
Non-Surgical Cervical Decompression
Clark, Aaron J et al. “Cervical spinal stenosis and sports-related cervical cord neurapraxia.” Neurosurgical focus vol. 31,5 (2011): E7. doi:10.3171/2011.7.FOCUS11173
Kukurin, George W. “The amelioration of symptoms in cervical spinal stenosis with spinal cord deformation through specific chiropractic manipulation: a case report with long-term follow-up.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 27,5 (2004): e7. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2004.04.009
Isaac Z. Evaluation of the patient with neck pain and cervical spine disorders. UpToDate. www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-the-patient-with-neck-pain-and-cervical-spine-disorders. Last updated May 2, 2016. Accessed February 25, 2018.
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