Most cervical problems are due to degenerative changes that occur in the discs and joints of the neck. Degenerative changes that affect the structures of the spine can cause the spinal canal to become too narrow, a condition called spinal stenosis. This may lead to pressure on the spinal cord. Bone spurs that stick into the spinal canal take up space, making the spinal canal smaller. They can press against the spinal cord or nerve roots. Pressure on the spinal cord from spinal stenosis can cause symptoms of myelopathy. Myelopathy may impair normal walking, hand and finger use, and bowel and bladder function. Doctors take these symptoms very seriously because severe myelopathy that is not treated may lead to permanent nerve or spinal cord damage. Pressure on nearby nerve roots can cause radiculopathy and may produce pain, weakness, or sensory changes in the area supplied by nerves that go from the cervical spine to the shoulder, arm, or hand.
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