Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament
The shape of the spine, with its vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs, is maintained by three longitudinal ligaments. One of these lies behind the vertebral bodies and separates the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs from the spinal canal, through which the spine’s “information cable”, the spinal cord extends.
If the posterior longitudinal ligament is overtaxed due to, for example, excessive weakness of the musculature, it may become thicker, constricting the spinal canal. This can also happen if the posterior longitudinal ligament becomes calcified or ossified with age. This frequently occurs in the cervical spine. If this causes excessive constriction of the nerves of the spinal cord, pain results and nerve’s function may be impaired.
If the pain cannot be managed or neurological deficits appear, surgery can provide the necessary space in the spinal canal, for example, by implants in the intervertebral discs or vertebrae.