This condition is a narrowing of the spinal canal that results from the degeneration of bones, discs, or joints in the cervical spine.
Anatomy of a Healthy Spine
In a healthy spine, the spinal canal has a rounded, triangular shape that provides an obstruction-free channel for the spinal cord. Each nerve root branches off of the spinal cord and travels through its respective opening, called a foramen, on either side of the vertebrae.
How Spinal Stenosis Forms
Spinal stenosis is typically caused by age and overuse, which can lead to degeneration of the spine’s discs, bones and joints. Vertebrae may slip out of their normal alignment and rub harmfully against each other.
Pressure on Cord and Nerve Roots
Damage from the rubbing causes the formation of bony growths called bone spurs. Bone spurs may push into the spinal canal or foramen space. Tissues surrounding the spinal cord, such as the ligamentum flavum, may thicken and push into the spinal canal. This creates pressure against the spinal cord or nerve roots.
Symptoms of Pinched Nerve Roots
Symptoms depend on the area being pinched. Pressure on a nerve root can cause pain, weakness and numbness in the shoulders, arms and hands.