The 'International Classification of Diseases' (ICD 10) is an extensive scheme that has been devised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in its revised form has more than 68,000 codes of diagnosis, which includes those for cervical stenosis.
Cervical stenosis is a chronic condition, which affects the spinal canal in the neck. The symptom is caused by the spinal canal getting narrower. The spinal canal is an area of the spinal column, which is a complicated part of the body consisting of a collection of nerves that connect the lower back to the brain. The nerves serve a purpose of allowing us to move and feel and also to control certain bodily functions, such as bladder control.
The seven vertebrae that are situated between the chest and head are what make up the cervical spine. The squeezing of nerves in this part of the body can greatly change the functionality of the spinal cord. Symptoms of pressure include weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs, arm, and neck.
This is an age-related symptom and is very often caused by changes due to old age, which reforms and shapes the size of the spinal canal. It is more common for both men and women after the age of 50. While the aging process is natural, it can cause "bulging" in the spinal discs and sponginess between the bones. There may also be a noticeable thickening of the tissue that connects the bones. The passing of the years could also cause tissue to, simply, wear away due to usage. All of these conditions can make the spinal canal narrower (cervical stenosis). In extremely rare cases, it is possible that the spinal canal is found to be narrow at birth due to the way that a baby's bones are formed.
In the majority of cases with this chronic condition, the symptoms do not appear all of a sudden. There is usually a gradual development over a period of years. The speed of the condition taking hold depends on a number of factors. Symptoms that are most common with Cervical Stenosis are:
General pain and weakness in the neck, hands, legs, and shoulders. The pain will vary in different cases and can also lead to numbness in particular areas of the body.
With this condition, there are sometimes problems with coordination and balance. A person suffering from cervical stenosis may have to shuffle while walking and will be liable to trip over. The symptom can be crippling if there is damage to the spinal cord.
There may be a degree of loss of bladder control, which will lead to incontinence.
Because there are a variety of symptoms that can be mild to chronic, the treatment will depend on specific problems.
For people that are in pain, then medical professionals will usually prescribe painkillers that will bring relief and diminish inflammation.
Part of the symptoms of cervical stenosis will lead to patients becoming far less active in an attempt to alleviate the pain. However, the lack of activity can lead to muscles growing weak because of the lack of use. This can in the long term mean even more pain. A physical therapist can teach sufferers exercises that will in the long term, build up muscle endurance and strength, maintain stability and flexibility, and also improve balance.
In some cases, injection of steroids will help, and surgery has been known to work when conditions are disabling.