Cervical Spinal Stenosis

What is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

Most neck pain is due to degenerative changes that occur in the intervertebral discs of the cervical spine and the joints between each vertebra. Most of the time it takes many years to develop, but sometimes things such as neck injury, lifestyle, and genetics may predispose to more rapid degeneration. In the late stages of spinal degeneration, bone spurs from the degenerative process can cause a condition known as spinal stenosis. As the bone spurs form, the size of the spinal canal becomes smaller. The bone spurs begin to press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots. Pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord can cause numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms, hands, and legs. This condition is sometimes called cervical myelopathy


What Causes Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

As we age, the disc loses some of its water content and, as a result, some of its shock absorbing ability. Like a sponge filled with water, the disc starts to thin out, usually as a result of small tears in the outer portion of the disc, called Annulus. This process changes the normal biomechanics of the spine called the annulus. Tears in the discs may occur without symptoms and be seen on MRI Scans. Therefore, you may not notice when they occur or what caused them. Overtime, the narrowed spinal canal and the bone spurs start to cause nerve irritation, resulting in pain radiating down the arms, tingling, weakness, and loss of function. 

Source: Cervical Spinal Stenosis | University of Maryland Medical Center