Cervical stenosis occurs once the spinal canal is constricted or narrowed. Since the spinal cord takes up this space, the narrowing can generate pressure against the spinal cord. This can lead to the manifestation of symptoms of spinal cord irritation and damage. The condition has various causes that you should be familiar with. When managing cervical stenosis, the doctor will utilize the non-surgical treatment options first. Once these are ineffective or the symptoms become worse, surgery is the last resort.
Among many individuals, weakness of the shoulder occurs with cervical stenosis. It occurs once compression of the spinal cord occurs in the upper cervical or upper region of the neck.
The shoulder blade and deltoid muscles are usually affected. Once these muscles weaken with progressive stenosis, they start to show indications of wasting. Oftentimes, there are burning sensations along with tingling and ‘pins and needles’ sensation from the shoulder up to the hand.
Pain due to cervical stenosis
As the compression on the spinal cord continues, the spinal nerves that supply the arm and hand are affected as well. The pressure on these tissues can lead to neck pain that feels as if it radiates from the neck to the shoulder, into the upper back and down one or both arms. The condition becomes worse since the pain can persist and also occur along with numbness on the surface of the hand and arm or weakening of the muscles.
Hands and legs
One of the typical issues linked with cervical stenosis involves abnormalities while walking. The signals to the leg muscles pass via the cervical spinal cord. In case the spinal cord is affected, the signals to the legs are altered.
As the stenosis becomes worse, walking becomes jerky and the individual loses strength in the legs which is called spasticity. If not treated, this can become worse. Many individuals also feel symptoms in the hands. The numbness is also a typical complaint and there is clumsiness when performing fine motor movements such as writing or typing. Holding and letting go can also be an issue since the muscles of the palm and fingers become weak.
Bowel and bladder problems
Even though the bowels and bladder are away from the cervical spinal cord, the condition can also trigger issues in these areas. The compression on the spinal cord can generate feelings of urinary urgency as well as cause hesitancy. Nevertheless, increasing moderate pressure can lead to disruptions in the flow of urine.
During defecation, the individual has to strain during bowel movements. As the condition becomes severe, the individual becomes incontinent which means that there is loss of voluntary bowel and bladder control.