Neck symptoms: Patients will experience chronic pain in the neck or shoulders, which may radiate to the base of the skull. The pain usually comes and goes, and may be temporarily alleviated by massage or acupuncture.
Arm symptoms: Patients may experience pain, numbness, or muscle weakness in the arms. These symptoms are caused by irritation of a nerve which extends to the arm from the spinal cord in the neck. The pain can sometimes spread down the arm to the elbow, hand or fingers. As with the pain or numbness, muscle weakness in the arms is caused by compression of the spinal cord. Some patients seek medical advice because they have difficulty with fine movements and controlling their fingers. Writing, playing musical instruments, fastening and unfastening buttons, etc., can all become difficult.
Leg symptoms: If the spinal cord is compressed, there is no pain. However, patients will have difficulty walking, due to leg stiffness, loss of balance, and taking slow and short steps. Some patients describe it as walking like a robot. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent spinal cord damage and long-term disability.
- Excessive bending, lifting or twisting
- Incorrect sitting posture over an extended period of time
- Traumatic injury to the spine caused by an accident or sport activities.