The team at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates treats numerous problems related to your muscles and bones, including problems of the spine. Cervical stenosis is a remarkably common condition, particularly in people who are over the age of 50. If you’ve been experiencing unexplained neck and upper back pain, cervical stenosis could be the culprit.
Your spinal canal
Your spine is amazing. It allows you to bend and twist, and it protects one of the major parts of your nervous system.
Your vertebrae curve around your spinal canal, which contains a bundle of nerves that conduct business between your brain and the rest of your body. When your spinal canal narrows, it’s called spinal stenosis.
The vertebrae in your neck are called cervical vertebrae, so when your cervical spinal canal narrows, it’s called cervical stenosis. In other words, when the spinal canal at the top part of your spine narrows, you have cervical stenosis.
The narrowing can compress the nerves contained in the cervical spinal canal, which can cause pain in your neck and arms as well as many other unpleasant symptoms.
Causes of the narrowing
There are several potential causes of cervical stenosis. One of the most common is some form of arthritis. Over time the cartilage in your joints can begin to break down, and that can lead to inflammation and stenosis. Arthritis can also cause changes to the discs that provide cushioning between your vertebrae.
Bone spurs, tumors, injuries, and other causes can also lead to cervical stenosis. The underlying cause may affect the treatment approach our experts recommend, but the symptoms will likely be very similar.
Signs that you have cervical stenosis
How do you know if the spinal canal in your neck has narrowed? You may not have any symptoms at all, if none of your nerves are compressed. If you do have symptoms, it’s likely that they’ll begin as merely annoying, but over time become increasingly worse.
Common symptoms of cervical stenosis include:
- Numbness or tingling in one or both of your hands or arms
- Numbness or tingling in one or both of your legs or feet
- Weak feeling in your hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Difficulty with balance
- Problems walking
- Pain in your neck
Treating cervical stenosis
The most appropriate treatment for cervical stenosis depends to some extent on the cause. The goal is for you to experience the least amount of pain with the greatest degree of mobility possible. Regardless of the cause there are a few things that may help with your symptoms.
For example, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, or naproxen may be helpful. Another common early treatment is corticosteroid injections, which can ease inflammation. This is usually not an appropriate long-term strategy because there are sometimes side effects.
Physical therapy and assistive devices are also common treatments. In some cases, our experts may recommend an injection of an anesthetic. This is sometimes called a nerve block. Your doctor may recommend surgery, depending on the severity of your cervical stenosis.
If you suspect you have cervical stenosis, or you’ve been diagnosed with it, book an appointment at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates. Our experts can answer your questions, evaluate your situation, and recommend a treatment plan for you.
To schedule an appointment, simply call 234-430-0079 between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.