The cervical spine is that region of the backbone (vertebral column) or spinal column (long flexible column), which spans the neck region consisting of seven bones of the backbone (C1 – C7).
Each bone is separated by intervertebral discs, which facilitate the mobility of the backbone and function as the shock absorbers for the vertebral column during various activities.
The vertebral column has a hollow (spinal canal) that houses the spinal cord and the nerve bundle. The spinal cord and the vertebral column run along the length of the entire back.
The spinal cord is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and has three protective linings called the meninges (dura, arachnoid and pia mater – from outside to inside).
Between the vertebrae, there is an opening (foramina) one on each, the left and right side for the spinal nerves to exit. These nerves further extend to the muscles, other tissues and the skin. Muscles and ligaments securely hold in the vertebral column and support the spinal cord along with the nerve bundles.
Cervical stenosis is a condition of the cervical spine, which is observed as an individual’s age. The degenerative changes associated with cervical stenosis include:
The intervertebral discs separating the individual bones of the vertebral column, dry and herniate. This increases the space between each bone of the vertebral column. As a result of the drying, the shock-absorbing capacity of the discs is also lost.
The bones of the vertebral column and associated ligaments thicken and their flexibility reduces.
The spinal canal narrows on account of the above changes.
There may also be growth of bone spurs which contributes to compressing the roots of the nerves.
Mild stenosis can be treated conservatively, but severe stenosis requires a neurosurgeon and surgery to effectively treat and alleviate the symptoms and degenerative changes caused.
Sudden severe neck injury
Vertebral column bone or ligament injury
Herniated discs or bone spurs that lead to narrowing of the spinal canal impinging pressure on exit point the nerve roots
Pain in the neck or arm.
The upper extremities of the hand experience weakness or numbness.
An unbalanced gait while walking.
Muscles of the legs may experience spasms.
Loss of coordination in fingers, arms and hands.
Arms and/or hands may experience loss of muscle tone.
Loss of dexterity in performing daily activities, dropping items frequently.
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