We as a society work too much, exercise too little and relaxation is often missed out. We live longer than previous generations and tend to eat less healthy nutritious food. As a result we have an aging population that increasingly experience symptoms, problems with our backs. One of the most common causes of upper back pain is compression of nerves and cervical stenosis a narrowing of the vertebral canal in the C4 to C7 region. This narrowing can be caused by any number of things such as trauma, degenerative disc disease or spondylosis or spinal osteoarthritis. It's a condition that can also be present from birth. As time goes on the spinal canal can continue to narrow until it begins to press on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Spine Anatomy The spinal column is made up of 24 individual vertebrae. These are in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions. There are also the fused sacral and coccygeal bones. The cervical vertebrae C1 –C7 help to support the head and allow it to rotate, laterally flex and have anterior, posterior flexion and extension. With the lower spine the structure of the cervical vertebrae form a tunnel or vertebral canal. This protects the spinal cord and nerves that exit through the vertebral. In between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc that cushions the bones and helps make movement and flexibility possible. It's when the normal anatomy of the vertebrae is compromised that pain and other somatic problems can arise. In cases of cervical stenosis the vertebrae in the neck may start to impinge on the spinal cord, which in turn can impede movement and affect various normal physical functions just about anywhere in the body. Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis Depending on the severity and rate of progression this can present with many symptoms that can vary. If there is no spinal cord compression there may just be neck pain and stiffness. However If the spinal cord is affected symptoms may range anywhere from tingling or numbness in the arms and hands, to an overall clumsiness or weakness. In more severe and untreated cases a person may also experience mobility issues, difficulty walking, an inability to complete complex motor tasks and even bladder and or bowel problems. A thorough and comprehensive evaluation, including an x-ray or MRI is needed to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan as there are many other diseases and syndromes which have similar symptoms such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or even multiple sclerosis. Four Alternative Options Along with the conventional treatments, several alternative therapies have shown promise in being effective in easing the symptoms of stenosis:
Acupressure and Thai Yoga Massage– Using Chinese and Thai medicine theory acupressure has been shown to be successful in the reduction of pain. The Kidney and Bladder meridians are related to the deepest part of our anatomy the bones and nerves. Many of the points are located parallel to the spine and when used in treatment are especially helpful in alleviating stenosis related symptoms.
Cranial Balancing & Sress Reduction – This is a gentle form of bodywork that can be very effective in easing the pressure and pain on the cervical spine. It involves light touching that helps to balance the cranial-sacral system and is often used in alleviating lots of symptoms including back pain. It's suitable for most including babies to the very frail.
Aromatherapy & Swedish Massage – Traditional Aromatherapy and Swedish massage can be very effective in the reduction of pain caused by spinal stenosis. Depending on the severity of the stenosis massage can range anywhere from light effleurage to deep cross friction techniques. Care must be taken to avoid joints that may be inflamed, because the surrounding muscles tend to splint against any painful movement and interference with this splinting could worsen the symptoms.
Aromatherapy hot compresses can also be used with specifically blended oils and these can be very soothing and pain relieving.
Before proceeding with any alternative treatment for spinal stenosis, an accurate diagnosis is essential and thorough knowledge of the condition is required to avoid any injury to the vertebrae or spinal cord, which in some case can be quite fragile. For qualified and experienced massage therapists and other bodyworkers, being educated in the pathology of The spine, stenosis and its related complications such as spondylosis is important in both being able to alleviate the pain as well as avoiding any possible problems. A GP referral letter should be obtained before making your appointment. www.carmensholistictherapy.co.uk 07392 378 826