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Age 27 in Japan, Pinched nerve or cervical stenosis - need advice/support :(

Hi all,

I am 27. I am living in Japan now, and was recently diagnosed with either cervical stenosis or a pinched nerve in the neck. I have had it for about a month and a half now. My symptoms are: tingling/burning in the shoulders/hands (Particularly the left), pain in the forearm when doing lifting/typing, and a sometimes tight neck. It started getting bad while playing piano, and continued to the point where my shoulders/hands tingle even when not doing anything. I have always had bad posture when standing/sitting/typing which I am trying hard now to correct.

I am ashamed to say that I don't know which I was diagnosed with - the doctor handed me a sheet that talked about stenosis (in Japanese, I translated) but was also saying the word "pinched nerve" in English interspersed with Japanese.

I try to avoid mailing/typing as much as possible for fear of getting worse - My shoulders are getting tight to type this message as I speak. I also went to a chiropractor, which was a big mistake - made the tingling and pain much worse. That was yesterday.

I also went to see a physical therapist, who gave me some exercises to perform, which I think were helping a bit before seeing the chiropractor. But this incredibly tense feeling I get in my shoulders when typing or playing piano never goes away.

Anyone have any advice? How did you cope/recover? Any other exercises to try? I am avoiding social obligations and parties, as I am on pain meds and am worried drinking will make it worse. Not being able to go out/exercise(besides walking)/play piano is subsequently making me depressed. I also cut way down on coffee, so I am pretty much doing nothing I find enjoyable anymore.

Also, before I go back to the doctor, which of the two diagnoses do you think is more likely based on my symptoms?? As I am young, it seems more likely that I would have a pinched nerve, I think. I also hope that this is the case, as cervical stenosis seems quite a bit more difficult to cure.

Also, are there any success stories on here of people getting back to normal? I want to get back to my old happy, piano playing self!

Even words of support would be appreciated at this point. THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • My guess is a pinced nerve, bad posture is also very bad for the neck, I also should pay more attention to that for my neck. Don't think that coffe is bad, I drink lots of it :) a heating pad may relax your muscles a bit
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 03/25/2013 - 6:52 AM

    You could actually have cervical stenosis and a pinched nerve!

    I have a small spinal canal and also a lot of degeneration which has caused bony spurs and herniated discs which are pinching nerves. My spinal cord was being compressed which meant I had a cervical fusion of the two worst levels to stop the progression of damage to my cord. I do still have symptoms in my arms and hands from the nerve roots that are being pinched as they leave my spinal cord at the levels below those fused.

    I have been told not to let a chiropractor adjust my neck because it could make the cord compression worse. I do have gentle treatment by a physiotherapist and do exercises each day to try to keep the movement in my neck.

    I don't think coffee is bad unless you drink a great deal of it. I think it can actually help the pain meds to work better. (Some pain meds contain caffine to make them more effective.)

    I suggest that you read about both conditions here on this site and prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered to take with you to your next appointment.

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