The neck contains passageways for our nerve and spinal cord to run through. These passageways can become narrowed. This narrowing process is called stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the condition where the space for the spinal cord or existing spinal nerve roots becomes narrowed and compressed. Bones spurs are usually the reason for this as we age, however trauma (previous injury), arthritis, a herniated disc or tumour can cause this also.
The symptoms of cervical stenosis really depend on two things. Is the spinal cord being compressed? Or is the spinal nerves (roots) being compressed? The symptoms between each of these are different. A pinched nerve in the neck will rarely affected the legs whereas as a pinched spinal cord (cervical myelopathy) can affect the arms and the legs. For spinal cord compression symptoms may include muscle weakness in the legs, spasticity in the legs, changes in your reflexes and pain and sensation changes. For spinal nerve root compression we typically have radiating pain, sensation changes and occasionally muscle weakness just in the arms.
Spinal cord compression can be a serious problem, if cervical compressive myelopathy (cord compression) is suspected a chiropractor and physiotherapist will refer you to a surgeon or medical specialist promptly. The sooner the compression is resolved the better the outcomes and reduction in the likelihood of ongoing neurological issues.
For nerve (root) compression, a treatment plan is conducted on a case-by-case basis. Some causes are more serious and involve more treatment than others. The cause of the nerve root compression (such as disc) will direct treatments and in many cases chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments will be enough to reduce pain and restore the function of the neck.