What are the Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Cord Compression?

What are the Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Cord Compression?

Cervical spinal cord compression occurs when the spinal cord in the neck region is compressed, often due to spinal stenosis, herniated discs, or bone spurs. Symptoms of cervical spinal cord compression can vary depending on the severity and location of the compression. Common symptoms include:

  • Neck Pain: Persistent or sharp pain in the neck, often radiating to the shoulders and arms.
  • Weakness or Numbness: Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms, hands, fingers, or legs. This may affect fine motor skills and grip strength.
  • Loss of Balance or Coordination: Difficulty maintaining balance, coordination, or a tendency to stumble or fall.
  • Clumsiness or Difficulty Walking: Difficulty walking, gait changes, or a feeling of heaviness in the legs.
  • Muscle Atrophy: Progressive loss of muscle mass or muscle weakness due to nerve compression.
  • Changes in Reflexes: Abnormal reflexes, exaggerated reflex responses, or diminished reflexes in specific areas.
  • Pain Radiating Down the Arms: Shooting pain down the arms, often following specific nerve pathways, due to nerve compression.
  • Altered Sensation: Changes in sensation, such as a loss of sensation, altered perception of touch, or heightened sensitivity.
  • Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills: Challenges with tasks that require fine motor skills, like buttoning a shirt or holding small objects.
  • Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia): Difficulty in swallowing, which may indicate compression of the spinal cord in the neck region.
  • Headaches: Persistent or worsening headaches, especially if they radiate from the neck to the back of the head or temples.
  • Bladder or Bowel Changes: Rarely, advanced compression can cause issues with bladder or bowel control.

It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they worsen over time or affect daily activities. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to prevent further damage and improve outcomes. A healthcare professional will typically conduct imaging tests like MRI or CT scans to assess the condition and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include physical therapy, medication, surgery, or a combination of approaches.

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