The spinal column can show signs of wear, particularly in the elderly. Wear is a normal ageing phenomenon that occurs in everyone, even if the degree to which it occurs varies individually. This wear, also called osteoarthritis, is found in various joints such as the hip or the knee. As a reaction to osteoarthritis, the vertebral bone proliferates and it becomes thicker, mainly in the vertebral joints where thick ridges develop. This may occur at one level, for example C5/6, but often does so at multiple levels, from C2 to TH1. Obviously, the ridges narrow the spinal canal and can compress the spinal cord because of this. They can also constrict the openings where the nerve roots emerge from the spinal canal. Because these openings in the cervical spinal column are not very wide, pinching of the emerging nerve roots can quickly occur. Moreover, the yellow ligaments are also thickened, which results in even less room in the constricted spinal column for the spinal cord and the nerve roots. However, how much room eventually remains is further determined by the degree of wear and the width of the canal, which may both vary from person to person. Other less common causes of constriction of the cervical spinal canal are swelling of inflamed tissue with rheumatism of the cervical vertebral joints and the condition after an injury of cervical vertebrae where displacement of bone fragments has occurred.
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