Anatomy and neuroradiology of cervical spine degenerative diseases

Luigi Simonetti, R. Agati, A. F. Marliani, M. Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Degenerative diseases of the spine are one of the most common clinical entities and affect the intervertebral discs including the opposing vertebral endplates, the intervertebral posterior joints and the ligaments. The most severe primary spinal degenerative changes are found in the lower cervical and lumbar spine regions. The spine contains three different types of joints, each of which presents its own pattern of degenerative disease: cartilaginous joints, represented by the intervertebral disc, or more specifically the functional unit defined as the "vertebro-disc connection"; synovial joints, represented by the posterior intervertebral joints, sacroiliac and costovertebral joints; fibrous joints, mainly in the principal ligaments such as the posterior longitudinal ligament and the yellow ligaments. In the radicular pain root compression alone does not fully account for root pain following disc-root conflict, but it is nonetheless considered the main cause of pain. We try to explain that the origin of pain is multifactorial and inflammation probably predominates over merely mechanical mechanisms. Conclusive considerations: can vertebral arthrosis be construed as the body's decision to privilege the spine's static function over its dynamic role when joint "hypermobility " linked to chronic load in old age could cause severe structural damage to the bony vertebral structures? This hypothesis should also embrace a further concept: ageing of the spine is not merely chronological. The most accurate interpretation accounting for similar degenerative phenomena encountered in the young is the abnormal static and dynamic loading stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalRivista Medica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • Cervical spine
  • Neuroradiology
  • Spinal disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Surgery

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