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Question:

Cervical spine stenosis with neck pain and numbness of the hands

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I was told a few months ago that I have congenitally narrowing spine but here lately my neck hurts and my hands feel like thier asleep. I was wondering if my spine is cause that plus its been very painful?


Answer:

 The pain in your neck and the numbness feeling in your hands as you described may be   due  to a cervical nerve compression , but it would be also important to rule out inflammation of the peripheral nerves at the level of the arm and hand. In the younger patients, cervical radiculopathy may be a result of a disc herniation or an acute injury  or as in your case congenital causing impingement of an exiting nerve. In the older patient, cervical radiculopathy is often a result of spinal canal narrowing from bone (osteophyte) formation, decreased disc height and degenerative changes due to aging process. The treatment strategy usually includes: physical therapy program aimed to reduce pain and inflammation, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication (“Motrin”, “Aleve”), also a re-education of your habits and posture to improve quality of life. You should be independent in a stretching and strengthening program and continue with these exercises under the periodic supervision of a physical therapist initially and then completely on your own. Patients whose condition fails to improve with a comprehensive rehabilitation program and selective injections should be presented with a surgical evaluation. Often, there is a progressive improvement over the first 6-8 weeks with conservative treatment. If there is no significant improvement in this time frame, consider a surgical evaluation.


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