Cervical Stenosis

cervical stenosisCervical stenosis is a major cause of neck and shoulder pain specifically in older people. Some people are born with cervical stenosis and other cases include people above 50 years old who are suffering the effect of the wearing and tearing of the spine.

CERVICAL STENOSIS

Stenosis is a term used to describe the narrowing of the canal that guards the spinal cord and the nerves in it. Stenosis in the neck affects the arms, shoulders and hands. Cervical stenosis is also caused by certain conditions such as a rupture of the spinal disc, which is the spongy part of the vertebrae that prevents friction between two vertebrae.

Cervical stenosis causes neck pain which may radiate to other areas like the hands and arms. When you are suffering from this condition, you may feel numbness and weakness of the lower extremities as well.

DIAGNOSING CERVICAL STENOSIS

Getting the correct diagnosis is important to ensure the right treatment. The diagnostic process usually includes taking your medical history, a physical examination and diagnostic tests.

When you see the doctor for the first time, your medical history will be recorded. You may be asked questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to determine if it is severe or not, questions on what treatments you have tried and if you have had any trauma or injuries.

Next the doctor will do a physical examination to check for restricted movements and pain. The doctor will check your extremities for weakness, loss of reflexes and sensation.

Diagnostic tests are usually the next step. X-rays would be taken to rule out any problems like infections or tumor growth. To get a clear picture of the cervical spine, doctors would also prefer CT or MRI scans for a 3D view.

A myelogram, which involves the injection of dye along with x-rays may be done to the spinal column to determine if there is pressure or blockage.

One of the primary symptoms of cervical stenosis is neck and shoulder pain. If the pain starts to become worse, you should seek medical care. To evaluate the urgency, consider the following:

  • For simple injuries like a bruise or strain, it does not require immediate attention,
  • For a continuous pain in the neck and shoulders, an immediate evaluation of a health care provider is needed.
  • It is advisable to go to the nearest emergency department if there is a stern and aggravating pain, numbness, weakness, malformation, color changes and coolness. This indicates that there is restricted amount of blood supply in a certain area.

If you are ever in any doubt, always call either your doctor or the nearest emergency room.

TREATMENTS FOR CERVICAL STENOSIS

Treatments for this condition fall under two categories– conservative treatment and surgical treatment.

For conservative treatment, the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications is advised. The use of a cervical collar depends on the extent of the injury and the nerves involved in the damage.

Others may be instructed to restrict their activities to prevent further damage to the nerves. Physical therapy is also prescribed to keep the neck strong and stabilized.

Surgical treatment for cervical stenosis is typically de-compressive laminectomy where the laminae are removed to provide more space for the nerves.

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Is Your Job Causing Your Neck Tension?

Is Your Job Causing your Neck TensionNeck tension associated with work is one of the most common complaints of office workers. The pain is felt from the base of the skull and radiates down to the neck and shoulders causing discomfort. There are a number of possibilities why this symptom is possibly related to your career or occupation.

With today’s great technological progress in computers, more companies shift from industrial to service oriented companies. With the use of computers, this results to cutting down of employees which leads not only to an increase in production but also an increase in the number of workers experiencing pain in the neck area.

Causes of Work-Related Neck Tension

It is a fact that computers make our life easier. In offices, computers almost do all the tasks but it minimizes the need for physical activity from the employees since they will no longer need to get up, leave their desks and receive or file documents. This will not give them the opportunity to relax and stretch to avoid their muscles from being strained and tensed which can cause neck tension.

Neck injury also happens when you are doing too much work. Certainly, it is most common in jobs requiring manual labor and in a wide range of blue collar jobs. Workers can experience pain from recurring stress injuries or because of an increased disintegration of muscles and tissues due to years of hard labor. All of these causes may lead to neck tension and neck injuries.

Another possible cause is stress. Mental stress is surely the top stressor experienced by office workers. They are placed in a situation where they need to do a lot of work in a limited span of time. With these, they can get stressed out which can make their neck muscles tense.

Risk of Developing Neck Tension 

According to research, there is twice the chance of neck tension occurring in people who sit for long periods of time.

The improper posture in using a computer, the kind of computer device, the duration of their break time and the position of their computers could all contribute to the development of this condition.

Poor posture is common in people who use notebook computers since there is increased neck flexion causing more discomfort. This is because people are working with their head flexed forward for long hours.

Neck tension experienced by office workers can lead into chronic pain when not treated. Subsequently, these chronic pain sufferers end up spending substantial amounts of money and time searching for relief, but to no avail. To save you from this frustration, here are some simple tips you can do on the job to minimize your risk of developing pain in your neck.

  • Keep active.

A sedentary lifestyle increases your chance of developing pain not only in the neck but just about anywhere. Keep those joints moving, be physically active. Do activities that would help your muscles relax.  Walk often and stretch a lot.

  • Think “ergonomics”.

Position your computer station to maximize use of the correct body posture. Further reduce neck flexion by having your chair and work table at the right height for you.

  • Sit up straight!

Maintain a sitting position that keeps your neck aligned in the neutral position.  Keep your head level and place your work in front of you so you can look straight ahead.

  • Stretch often.

Stretch your neck, back and shoulders from time to time to prevent your muscles from stiffening up.

While these prevention techniques may sound too simple, they are very effective in preventing your job from giving you pain and neck tension.

Suffering From Neck Pain?

suffering from neck painsNeck pain? Rest assured, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from these conditions. In fact, up to two-thirds of us have neck pain at some point in our lives.

Neck pain is also known as “cervical pain”. It is felt in the neck area and within the structures of the neck from the muscles, nerves and to the vertebrae and the disks in between.

What Does It Feel Like Suffering From Neck Pain?

As a neck pain sufferer, you know what YOUR neck pain feels like. But you may also be wondering if what you feel is typical pain. Let’s look at what most common neck discomfort may feel like.

The pain is located in the neck area and there is stiffness of the neck muscles. The pain may radiate to certain areas particularly down to the shoulders, arms and hands or up into the head causing headaches. When touching the neck muscles, it feels hard and tense.  Suffering from neck pain is associated with nerves, numbness, tingling sensation and weakness of the extremities can be felt.

Three Types of Cervical Pain

Pain in the neck is classified into three types:

  • axial neck pain
  • myelopathy
  • radiculopathy

Axial neck pains are more on the musculoskeletal system thus there is pure soft tissue and neck pain. Myelopathy happens when there is too much pressure on the spinal cord thus can cause neck pain to occur. Lastly, radiculopathy where the nerves are compressed which could lead to arm and pain on the neck as well.

Acute vs. Chronic Neck Pain

The pain you feel can be either acute or chronic. Acute pain occurs immediately after injury. Usually, this condition can be treated within 7 to 10 days with ice, rest and over-the-counter pain reliever drugs. If symptoms would tend to continue for a few weeks, the help of a primary care physician is needed. With acute neck pains, your professional health carer would perform tests and do therapies like give anti-inflammatory and pain medications, acupuncture, injections and physical therapy.

On the other hand, chronic pain is described as neck pain than occurs from more than three months. If treatments and medications are not effective in treating the chronic pain, intense pain management and surgical interventions may be necessary.

Some Causes of Neck Pain

One of the primary causes of neck pain is stress. Even though you may have a stress free life, there are still stressors in our environment that can affect us, like chemical and physical stressor.

Chemical stress caused by chemicals and pollutants can seriously affect your overall health. Physical stress like wrong sleeping position, excessive fatigue, tedious movements and uncomfortable or abnormal neck positions can all lead to muscle strain and tension.

Secondly, neck pains can be caused by diseases or disorders to any of the tissues in the neck. Some common conditions are neck strain, neck injury and degenerative diseases. Some can be caused by infections like a throat virus infection which could lead to swelling and pain in the neck.

There are also conditions that can affect the neck muscles like fibromyalgia. Neck pains can also be caused by traumatic accidents or falls that causes neck injuries like fractures, blood vessel injury, whiplash and paralysis.

Risk Factors of Neck Pain

Perhaps the biggest risk factor is aging. As you get older, your neck is suffers from years of wear and tear. This causes conditions such as arthritis, which is common with age.

The occurrence of neck pain is also high if your occupation requires your neck to be in one position for a long period of time.