What causes cervical spinal stenosis?

Degeneration or arthrosis of the spine

Degeneration of the spinal column is a normal process to which everyone is prone to some degree. Some people naturally have a narrower spinal canal than others. Elderly people’s spines are especially prone to degeneration.

Arthrosis is a normal symptom of ageing which everyone will experience to some degree, although some people are more prone to it than others. As you will know, arthrosis affects all sorts of joints, such as hips and knees. The vertebrae and discs will respond to arthrosis by proliferating. They will grow thicker, especially at the level of the spinal joints, where they will cause thick ridges to develop. This process may occur at any level of the neck, but it generally happens at several levels at once. Needless to say, such ridges or bone spurs will narrow the spinal canal and gradually increase the amount of pressure exerted on the spinal cord. In some cases, a bulging intervertebral disc will add to the stenosis.

Degeneration may also narrow the openings through which the nerves branch off the spinal canal. Since these openings are not particularly wide at the level of the cervical spine, the nerves governing the arms will soon be compressed. Moreover, the bands of connective tissue (ligaments) will grow thicker, thus leaving even less room for the spinal cord and nerves in the stenosis-affected spinal canal. The amount of room that ultimately remains available for the nerves and spinal cord is determined by the extent of the degeneration and the width of the canal, which differ from person to person.

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