The vast majority of chronic neck pain is due to the degeneration that takes place as we age and its associated changes to our neck structures. This occurs in the intervertebral discs and the joints between each vertebra (facet joints). One of the most serious situations that occur as a result of this is known as spinal 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, arthritis, a herniated disc or tumor can cause this also.
Symptoms of cervical stenosis
The symptoms of cervical stenosis really depend on two things. Is the spinal cord being compressed? Or is the spinal nerve roots being compressed? The symptoms between each of these are much 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, increase 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. Without getting too technical all of our chiropractors and physiotherapists at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) are clinically focused on spinal diagnosis and non-surgical treatment so will be able to answer all your questions and directed you to the best resources for self-education.
Treatment of cervical stenosis
Spinal cord compression is a serious problem, if cervical compressive myelopathy (cord compression) is suspected our chiropractors and physiotherapists will refer you to a surgeon promptly. The sooner the compression is resolved the better the outcomes and reduction in the likelihood of ongoing neurological issues. For nerve root compression, our chiropractors and physiotherapist assess this on a case-by-case basis. The cause of the compression will direct treatments and in many cases chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments will be enough to reduce pain and restore the function of the neck. Treatments incorporate mechanical diagnosis and symptom modification exercises (McKenzie), strengthening exercises and ongoing education.