Cervical stenosis and riding

Was diagnosed with cervical stenosis last year. Have pretty much daily neck pain which radiates to my shoulder, and sometimes down my arm. Was in physical therapy all last summer and helped slightly but not a whole lot. So now I’m just kind of dealing with it. Anyone else here have it, and will riding potentially make it a lot worse? I was just reading online that riding horses is an activity that should be avoided, yikes!. Guess I could’ve asked the doc this but no longer seeking treatment and don’t want to make an appointment just to ask this question!

That sounds horrible.

Have you ever heard of the Inspire forum? I don’t know if Cervical Stenosis is covered, but it is a fantastic website/forum for all sorts of health issues and support.

Are you sure you mean cervical though? Wouldn’t that be related to the cervix? What you describe sounds more like Spinal Stenosis?

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Cervical definition starts at the skull and runs down maybe 7 vertebrae. OP, so sorry to hear about your dx and pain. Any chance you find accupressure gives you relief?


Cervical spine = neck. Not a fun place to have issues but then again neither is your cervix LOL. have not heard of the Inpsire forum, I’ll check it out!

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Have not tried accupressure but maybe it’s worth a shot. Good news is I just got cleared by PT to ride! he basically said sitting hunched over our phones and laptops is more damaging to our spine and getting out and doing activities we love. He also gave me some exercises to help with core strength, and posture.

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I was told some 25 years ago I needed cervical fusion and never had any surgery. What I find helps is I run my fingers down my neck, on the sides and back and anywhere that feels sore I put pressure on until it releases. I dig deep. Curious to know if it would help you too.

I have had plenty of MRI’s to confirm a bad case of it in my neck and lower back as well. I still train, show and ride regularly. I rely on pain meds when necessary.
My jumper gave me the radiating arm pain from neck on down - my hunters do not cause it. I clean my stalls and do barn work and it keeps me fit. I have an athletic build, thin and very strong, but am 62 and have had a batch of kids and abdominal surgeries. I just take a day off and go window shopping once a week and it allows me a day to heal. After being away showing, I need at least two days of hanging out in the house before getting back to riding. Just try to stay on ! It’s so worth it IMHO

I do the same deep rubbing when my neck hurts. It also helps me to hang my head upside down (I do it over the side of my bed) for about 5 minutes, it’s like traction. I think they also have home traction machines you can get . Good posture; making sure your head stays aligned over your neck and stretching out the shoulders helps, too. Doing a few easy “girl” push ups strengthens the correct back muscles to keep the shoulders back. Pilates, and fascia stretches help. But some days it hurts, and some days it doesn’t; seems like it has to do with weather/air pressure. I think I do get a little sore after hard rides, but if I post the trot instead of sit, and don’t canter much, I don’t think it affects my neck.

Just this morning I’ve got my hard ball out and was just looking for my Home Medics Shiatsu massager to DIG OUT sore spots. Our barn build has been especially hard on me and I’m about to run the compacter and install another stall mat. Doing body work keeps me going.

Thinking more about this thread today and a few more ideas. I grew up doing gymnastics and horse owner starting at 7 and all kinds of falls in both sports. Remember a vault dismount that surely should have broken my neck. As I grew older started having lots of massage work and went from one therapist to the next trying to find relief with my neck, shoulders, hips, etc.

I have not needed professional massage in some 10 years and when I think back why it’s Jack Meagher. Some still remember his name - he worked on humans and horses at the Olympic level and also wrote books and had a video. Highly recommend getting them all.
Here’s his book:

What he got me focused on was releasing tight spots and digging them out. Then I discovered Kelly Starrett a few years ago and when I was having hip pain a few years ago a sports med doc suggested I do stretches from the Kelly Starrett book “The Supple Leopard” and sure enough I barely have any hip pain.

All this awareness and relief has firmly opinionated me on using the same deep tissue release on my horses and with results there too.

During my recent barn build I’m fighting tennis elbow and sure enough with Jack’s book and my hard ball I found a nasty patch of tissue on the back of my elbow and sure enough after deep rolling the whole thing released. It comes back but I just roll hard and get it released again.

Just some ideas for anyone interested. :yes:

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Thank you PaddockWood - I knew that Jack Meagher had great info for equine massage (I still have his book which is decades old) but didn’t know about his human work! Starting the hunt for the books/videos now. Appreciate the info!

As someone with long-standing lower spine stenosis with bilateral sciatica I can suggest what worked for me: first, a neurologist who is also a horsewoman; it didn’t even cross her mind to tell me no more riding; second, a physical therapist who is incredibly gifted - if one PT doesn’t work maybe the next one will be more helpful for you; third, some targeted homeopathic remedies; and fourth, acupuncture. The last two were ideas that worked for me after both worked for my JRT who has spinal and allergy issues. She gets monthly acupuncture treatments from a vet who incorporates both mainstream and and alternative treatments into her practice. I used homeopathic remedies for her allergies including to spider bites - typical JRT, hunts everything that moves with not always good outcomes. A lot of people say okay, homeopathy is just sugar pill stuff but, then again, dogs don’t have any preconceived ideas about whether homeopathy is more placebo than effective treatment so I tried some too with usually pretty good results.

Yes the radiating arm pain, I know exactly what you mean! I am also staying fit. Hopefully that will keep me going for a few years longer than otherwise

So just something to consider. It can lead to permanent nerve damage. Surgery may be in your future at some point. If your grip gets weak, I would get evaluated.