Cervical stenosis is a medical condition that affects the spinal column. As people age, the spine in one of the parts that experience degenerative changes and one of that is compression of the canal at the neck area. The spinal canal is the hollow part that houses the nerves that run along the spinal column. When this canal narrows, it interferes with the functioning of these nerves. In severe cases, the compression of the canal may collapse the entire spinal cord. As the spine gets squeezed more, the more pronounced the symptoms. Cervical stenosis is common in senior patients. The condition presents certain symptoms that individuals can watch out for.
One of the symptoms of cervical stenosis is poor coordination. The nerves in the spinal cord are responsible for the movement of various body parts. These nerves also facilitate coordination of movement of the arms, legs, shoulders, and other joints. For an individual with cervical stenosis, compression of these nerves affects their functioning. Balancing becomes a problem, and a person may have trouble walking straight. The condition may also impact fine motor skills such as writing. In serious circumstances where the spinal cord gets crushed, a patient may be left physically disabled. As a matter of fact, compromised coordination is one of the symptoms that demand tests for cervical stenosis.
Pain, numbness, stiffness, and weakness in the limbs and joints are the other symptoms of cervical stenosis. The nerves are responsible for sending signals to the brain to indicate pain and other sensations. If these nerves are under extreme pressure, then they may fail to register some sensations.
Nerve damage from cervical stenosis can also lead to incontinence, meaning an individual loses control of their bladder and bowel movements. The nerves are responsible for regulating the movements as well.
Another symptom of the condition is leg pain, which is an indication of a condition called lumbar stenosis. This type of stenosis is one that develops in the lower back, causing certain damages that affect the leg. Someone suffering from lumbar stenosis can get rid of the leg pain by sitting down to ease the pressure from the leg and lower back. When you sit down, the spinal column opens up, causing the pain to subside. In some instances, there may be tingling and numbness.
The symptoms of cervical stenosis will vary depending on the severity of the condition. An individual can experience the narrowing of the spinal canal but not show any symptoms. There are also elements that characterize symptoms of cervical stenosis. For one, they occur over a prolonged period as opposed to sudden onset. Some people may even go for years without developing significant symptoms. Another characteristic is that the symptoms may come and go, meaning that they are not continuous. An individual with the conditions may also feel relieved after lying down or sitting. Symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis may present themselves when undertaking specific activities such as sitting or walking in certain positions, particularly for lumbar stenosis.
Someone exhibiting symptoms of the condition can get tests to get an accurate diagnosis. First, a doctor will consider the symptoms history and how long they have been going on. Doing this helps with the physical exams that a physician has to conduct. If a patient has pain or weakness in their extremities, then a doctor will want to know exactly where the problem lies. Blood tests are also conducted to detect cervical stenosis accurately. Then imaging tests can follow, and these include X-rays, CT scans, and MRI exams. Imagining tests are vital in confirming the compression of the spinal canal at the neck. It is also essential to check what is causing it. An MRI, CT scan, or an X-ray can show herniated discs, tumors or damaged ligaments around the spinal canal. A doctor must also rule out other medical conditions that may result in the same symptom a patient is experiencing.
Cervical spinal stenosis can be hard to detect, and a patient can end up living with it for a long time, causing the situation to worsen. Proper diagnosis is very crucial, especially for individuals over 50. Correct diagnosis of the condition will determine the degree of it and what treatment would be most suitable.