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As we age, our bodies go through countless changes, and the spine is no exception. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces between the vertebrae begin to narrow, and it is a common affliction of individuals over the age of 50. When this condition occurs in the neck, it is called cervical stenosis. Often caused by the daily wear and tear of aging or osteoarthritis, narrowed spaces in the spine causes pinched nerves. When suffering from cervical stenosis, the first step to take is to start orthopedic physical therapy in Smithtown with our skilled team at The Physical Therapy Experience!
What causes cervical stenosis?
- Overgrowth of bones: Often occurring in adults, osteoarthritis frequently causes bone spurs. Overgrown bone spurs may block passageways in the spine.
- Herniated discs: The soft discs cushioning the space between vertebrae dry out and crack with age, allowing the vertebrae to rub against each other.
- Thickened ligaments: With time and age, the ligaments of the spine may become larger. If the ligaments of the spine become too enlarged, they take up space that would be otherwise occupied by nerves.
- Tumors: While uncommon, tumors may occur in the spine. Identifiable with MRI’s, tumors put unnecessary pressure on the spine and take up the space that would be used by nerves or other tissues.
- Spinal injuries: Car accidents or other traumatic events may cause the spine to be misshapen. Misplaced vertebrae or swelling from an injury takes up space and narrows the spinal pathway.
- Paget’s disease: Paget’s disease is a disorder characterized by abnormally large and brittle bones. In the spine, this narrows the spinal canal and causes nerve problems.
What are the symptoms of cervical stenosis?
Though not everyone with cervical stenosis experiences symptoms, some of the most common ones include:
- Hard time standing or walking
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Foot drop
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Neck pain
- Balance problems
- Weakness in extremities
If you experience any of these symptoms, consider orthopedic physical therapy in Smithtown today.
How can my cervical stenosis be treated?
There are a number of effective treatments for cervical stenosis. Contact your doctor today to determine the best treatment path for you!
- Medications: Doctors prescribe patients varying medications for cervical stenosis, such as pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-seizure medications.
- Cortisone injections: While found to be effective, cortisone injections are painful and invasive treatment options. Cortisone injections also have distasteful side effects and must be repeated.
- Surgical procedures: Also effective, surgical procedures are invasive, and have prolonged recovery times. While sometimes necessary, it is best to consider other options before having a surgical procedure.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy is the least invasive treatment option for individuals with cervical stenosis. Found to be very effective, there are no negative side effects associated with physical therapy. Cervical stenosis is often accompanied by a decrease in frequent exercise, but physical therapy helps to increase physical activity. Physical therapy also assists in increasing strength and endurance, maintaining flexibility and stability in the spine, and improving balance.
If you are affected by cervical stenosis, consider treatment with orthopedic physical therapy in Smithtown. Let our team at The Physical Therapy Experience help put you on the right path towards recovery!