Both cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia are debilitating disorders. Until recently, they often got confused in the doctor’s office. It is harder to detect cervical stenosis until you have reached a stage where you have caused permanent damage to the nerves.
Fibromyalgia is increasingly easy to detect with new testing procedures. The important thing to remember is that you need to understand both disorders, since fibromyalgia can radically increase your risk of cervical stenosis.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is characterized by a set of symptoms. Originally it was difficult to diagnose since all the symptoms were noticed only by the reports of the patients, however, now there are blood tests and brain scans that can help to make possible a clear diagnosis. People who suffer from fibromyalgia more frequently experience chronic and widespread pain, pain and stiffness in the neck, spine, hips and joints, sleep disruption, painful menstruation and mental confusion.
It is associated with a higher incidence of yeast infections, spinal stenosis and other disorders related to the immune system, including IBS. Fibromyalgia is not a terminal illness, but it is considered a limited progressive disease. Many people experience a reduction in symptoms when they are of age. Both men and women can get fibromyalgia.
Who is at risk?
Men and women can acquire fibromyalgia at any age after age 18, although there have been cases of younger children of both sexes who have been diagnosed with the disease. The science is not clear about the specific cause of fibromyalgia, but they have identified some clear factors that may indicate and an increased risk of it.
These risk factors include being related to anyone with fibromyalgia, trauma and serious injuries to the body or train, immune system disorders, arthritis and inflammatory diseases. Fibromyalgia does not increase your risk of cancer. Women with fibromyalgia may be at increased risk of endometriosis, which increases their risk of ovarian cancer as well.
What is cervical stenosis?
Cervical stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal between vertebrae C1 and C7 in the spine due to compression. This compression affects the spinal cord and nerve endings. It can cause loss of bladder control, difficulty maintaining balance, numbness or weakness in arms or legs, muscle weakness and loss of muscle control.
It is sometimes referred to as a “bulging disc” problem, where compression has become so severe that the vertebrae of the spine bulge for lack of cushioning and press or cut into the spinal cord and nerve endings. It is a degenerative disorder that is rarely diagnosed before the onset of advanced symptoms. Common treatments include medication, exercise, physiotherapy and, sometimes, surgery to relieve compression in the spine.
Who is at risk?
Cervical stenosis can begin for many reasons in the human body, including high-impact repetitive activity, poor posture, and body trauma. It is also a common disorder that occurs as a result of the aging process. It occurs more frequently in women over 50 years of age, mainly due to lack of muscle tone and strength. It is also common in men over 50, but it is usually noticed later in life than in women.
What is the relationship between cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia?
The relationship between cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia is complicated. Many of the initial symptoms of both can cause them to confuse each other. Fortunately, with the recent development of blood tests and brain scans to diagnose fibromyalgia, combined with the X-ray diagnostics available for cervical stenosis, a misdiagnosis is becoming less common.
However, there is increasing evidence that nerve damage and its possible role in fibromyalgia may be stronger than initially thought. This is leading many doctors to believe that there is a stronger relationship between cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia than ever before.
As cervical stenosis causes damage to the nerves, but the symptoms may not show until the damage has been occurring for years, that damage to the nerves may be one of the triggers of fibromyalgia. It is also accepted that the risk of cervical stenosis will be much higher for men and women with fibromyalgia as well.
What can you do?
You and your doctor can be sure to monitor your health to detect the symptoms of both disorders and treat them accordingly. If you do not show signs of cervical stenosis, it is important to remember that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia increases the risk of developing it. Fibromyalgia and its pain and stiffness are more likely to decrease the amount of regular physical activity you do in your life.
That decrease can set the stage for further compression in the range of your spine between C1 and C7 that will then lead to spinal stenosis at a much earlier stage of life. By being proactive with changes in lifestyle, you can help your fibromyalgia symptoms and also prevent cervical stenosis.
The importance of flexibility and the exercise of loading
The primary non-surgical treatment for cervical stenosis is pain management and exercise. Physical therapy and exercise focus on increasing flexibility, along with load bearing and strengthening strength to help relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
It is also the lifestyle change that is most recommended to people with fibromyalgia to help relieve symptoms. Strengthening your strength and maintaining your flexibility not only increases your ability to support the upper body and relieve pressure on the spine, it also stimulates the functioning of the lymphatic system more effectively, which helps your immune system.
Be sure to determine if cervical stenosis is present
Cervical stenosis and fibromyalgia are two disorders that are often confused with each other, and they can also create each other. Nerve damage from cervical stenosis can lead to the development of fibromyalgia, and muscle weakness and pain of fibromyalgia can create the environment that results in cervical stenosis. You can be proactive with your life so you do not have to suffer with these two.