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Degeneration of the Spine

Strain to the neck causes wear and tear arthritis

By the time you reach your thirties steady aging of spinal structures in the cervical spine starts to occur. This is promoted by repetitive, and particularly heavy motion, can cause arthritis of the spinal column. A number of factors carry a greater risk, including:

Gender: osteoarthritis is more common in post-menopausal women

Excess Weight: accelerates wear and tear 

Genetics: e.g. a family history of osteoarthritis

Associated Diseases: including infections, diabetes, and various forms of rheumatism

Degenerative changes induce pressure on the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord runs in the spinal canal and is surrounded by bony and fibrous structures called Vertebral bodies. These structures form the spinal column. The spinal column is surrounded by muscles, which attach to the vertebral bones and various ligaments, and mediate movements of the neck. Between the vertebral bodies, or segments, nerves exit the spinal cord to connect to the periphery where they control muscles and sensation, e.g. the sense of touch.

It is this close relationship between the vertebrae and ligaments that predisposes the spinal cord to injury. Arthritic changes in the spinal columnis induce an inflammatory reaction in the affected bones, cartilage, and ligaments. This results in protrusion of intervertebral discs, the formation of bony spurs, and a thickening of ligaments. Together these changes compromise the spinal canal and can compress the spinal cord leading to CSM.

It is thought that cord compression in CSM results in three types of injury:

First, the pressure reduces the blood flow in the spinal cord starving cells of oxygen and nutrients.

Second, inflammation, which probably occurs as a result of cell death, contributes to further damage.

Third, mechanical stretch may affect the processes of neurons which disrupts the flow of information in the spinal cord and destroys its computational functions.