The nuchal ligament with a thickened attachment to the breast bone is a commonly used term for a band of ligaments that wraps around the neck and connects to the sternum and the upper portions of the ribs. The various sternal ligaments (anterior, middle, and posterior) suspend the sternum, but no one is quite sure which of the ligaments is the “primary” support.
Lateral bands of tissue along the sides of the ribs and clavicle are called the costovertebral ligaments. Costal cartilages are made up of cells called chondrocytes. Cartilaginous tissue is often added to damaged discs. In 1945, the surgeon Vincent L. Bourque wrote that:
“[C]entral isolated disc herniations are often followed by encroachment upon the lateral costovertebral ligaments, which are frequently found congested, irritated, and swollen. Recurrent herniations are usually linked with contour defects in the rib head.”
As the disc degenerates, the spinal cord and other surrounding tissues can be damaged. As the annulus becomes more stiff and the nucleus becomes more rigid, it can fail to push outwards enough to squeeze out against the annulus, which gives way and allows the disc to extrude outwards in the form of a herniation.
Massive intervertebral disc herniation is a painful disease, especially when it causes nerve root compression. It is quite possible that the root compression is due to the vertebral canal itself being completely obstructed by the herniation, without any abnormal weight loading. The roots pass through the canal and are protected by boney rings. The herniation may be making pressure inside the spinal canal by impingement of soft tissues against a structure inside the spine that does not have any boney protection. d2c66b5586