Cervical Stenosis Overview
As we age, our bodies undergo a natural process of degeneration. Our biological systems do not function as they did in earlier years. Degeneration also occurs in the spine. Degeneration of the intervertebral discs in cervical spine can result in various serious conditions. The most serious amongst these is a condition known as cervical stenosis.
Cervical Stenosis occurs when the spinal canal in the cervical spine (part of the spine within the neck region made up of a column of seven vertebrae) narrows. Narrowing of the spinal column causes an increase in pressure on nerve roots leaving the spinal cord in the neck region as well as on the spinal cord itself. This squeezing results in damaging or irritating of the spinal cord or nerve roots. This damage in turn results in pain, stiffness and numbness in the arms, neck and back.
Causes of Cervical Stenosis
As mentioned earlier, spinal degeneration is part of the natural ageing process. Therefore, changes in the shape of the cervical spine that result in cervical stenosis are common in elderly people. The condition is therefore commonly diagnosed in people aged 50 and above. However, physical trauma to the cervical spine and conditions such as Paget’s disease, achrondroplasia and spinal tumors can result in the development of the condition.
The narrowing of the cervical spine resulting in
cervical stenosis occurs in a number of ways.
Age related causes include the degeneration of the vertebral discs which results in leaking of the jelly like liquid within the intervebral discs. The damaged discs protrude and press against the spinal cord. Bone spurs (hard calciferous materials formed as a result of osteoarthritis) may form between the spinal vertebrae resulting in the reduction of space within the spinal column. The ageing process may also result in the thickening of ligaments within the cervical spine area. Thickening of these ligaments results in their bulging, resulting in increased pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Other causes of cervical stenosis include spinal injuries that may result in increased pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord; achondroplasia which slows down bone formation and results in a smaller spinal canal, Paget’s disease which results in the formation of abnormally large bones which results in a smaller spinal canal and the formation of spinal tumors that cause increased pressure on the spinal cord.
Detailed information regarding cervical stenosis
Article published January 21st, 2011
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