What is Cervical Stenosis

What is Cervical Stenosis 

By Daniel Rocha LMT CPT CNS 


Cervical stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck region. It can lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves, causing symptoms such as neck pain, numbness, weakness, and difficulty with coordination or walking. The treatment for cervical stenosis depends on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. 


Conservative treatment: This approach involves non-surgical methods to manage cervical stenosis symptoms:


   - Physical therapy: A structured exercise program can help strengthen the neck muscles, improve flexibility, and alleviate symptoms.

   - Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain relievers may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

   - Steroid injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections into the affected area can provide temporary relief from symptoms.


Massage therapy can be a complementary treatment option for cervical stenosis, but it is important to note that it may not directly address the underlying cause of the condition. However, it can help alleviate symptoms, reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. 


1. Pain relief: Massage techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or trigger point therapy can help reduce pain associated with cervical stenosis. The therapist can target specific areas of muscle tension and work on releasing knots and trigger points that may contribute to pain.


2. Muscle relaxation: Massage therapy can help relax the muscles in the neck and upper back, which can become tense and tight due to cervical stenosis. By reducing muscle tension, massage can alleviate discomfort and improve mobility.


3. Improved range of motion: Cervical stenosis can limit the range of motion in the neck. Massage techniques that involve stretching and mobilizing the neck joints can help improve flexibility and increase the range of motion.


4. Stress reduction: Chronic pain and discomfort from cervical stenosis can cause emotional stress. Massage therapy promotes relaxation and can help reduce stress and anxiety, contributing to an overall sense of well-being.


Naprapathy is a form of manual medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including cervical stenosis. Naprapathic treatment for cervical stenosis typically involves a combination of manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercises, and lifestyle recommendations. 


1. Manual therapy: Naprapaths use hands-on techniques to address musculoskeletal imbalances and restrictions. They may employ techniques such as soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, spinal manipulation, and stretching to reduce muscle tension, improve joint mobility, and alleviate pain associated with cervical stenosis.


2. Postural correction: Poor posture can contribute to the development and progression of cervical stenosis. Naprapaths can assess your posture and provide guidance on proper ergonomics and body mechanics to help improve alignment and reduce stress on the cervical spine.


3. Therapeutic exercises: Naprapaths may prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the neck muscles, improve range of motion, and enhance stability. These exercises can help support the cervical spine and reduce symptoms associated with cervical stenosis.


4. Lifestyle modifications: Naprapaths may offer recommendations on lifestyle modifications, such as ergonomic adjustments at work, posture correction during activities of daily living, and strategies for managing stress. These modifications can help reduce the strain on the neck and promote overall well-being..


Exercise can play a valuable role in managing cervical stenosis by improving strength, flexibility, and posture. 


1. Neck stretches:

   - Chin tucks: Sit or stand with your back straight. Slowly retract your chin, bringing it back without tilting your head up or down. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.

   - Neck side bending: Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the other side.

   - Neck rotations: Slowly turn your head to one side, looking over your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.


2. Neck strengthening:

   - Isometric exercises: Place your hand against your forehead and try to push your head forward, while simultaneously providing resistance with your hand to create resistance. Repeat the same exercise in different directions (e.g., hands on the sides or back of the head).

   - Neck extension: While sitting or standing, gently lean your head back, looking up at the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position.


3. Upper back and shoulder exercises:

   - Shoulder blade squeezes: Sit or stand with your arms by your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold for a few seconds, and release.

   - Upper back stretches: Cross your arms in front of you and gently pull your shoulder blades apart, feeling a stretch in your upper back. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.


4. Posture exercises:

   - Wall angels: Stand with your back against a wall, feet slightly away from the wall. Raise your arms, bending your elbows to 90 degrees and touching your forearms to the wall. Slowly slide your arms up and down the wall while maintaining contact with your forearms.

   - Scapular retraction: Sit or stand with your back straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds, then release.


Remember to start with gentle movements and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercises as tolerated. If you experience pain or discomfort during any exercise, stop immediately. Your massage therapist or naprapath can guide you in developing a safe and effective exercise program tailored to your specific needs and limitations.


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Wei, X., Wang, S., Li, J., Gao, J., Yu, J., Feng, M., & Zhu, L. (2015). Complementary and alternative medicine for the management of cervical radiculopathy: An overview of Systematic Reviews. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541004/ 

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