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Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (spinal cord compression) is a condition in the neck that arises when the spinal cord is squeezed. This squeezing (compression) is caused by the regular wear-and-tear through aging that occurs in the spine.
Myelopathy is most prevalent in individuals over age 50. While the condition can be both cervical and thoracic, cervical myelopathy is the most common. As the spinal cord transmits nerve impulses to different regions in the body, you will often experience a wide range of symptoms.
Reduce your risk.
We all experience some spinal degeneration as we age. The intervertebral discs that provide cushioning between spinal bones will naturally lose their spongy texture through a loss in hydration. They become flatter and the discs push into the spinal canal. In addition, the facet joints in the back of the spine can degenerate through normal aging and become inflamed from arthritis.
These disc protrusions, stenosis, bone spurs, spinal herniations and benign or cancerous tumors can all contribute to myelopathy. Anything that causes the spinal cord to narrow and compress can lead to this condition. While this type of compression and degeneration is a natural, slow process, it can be sped up through spinal injury. There is an increased risk of myelopathy with unhealthy weight, smoking, lack of exercise or extreme sports participation, as well as straining the back through heavy and improper lifting techniques.
Pinpoint your pain.
Spinal cord compression can cause a loss of feeling and function, as well as pain in the area and below the place of compression. Other symptoms can include pain in the neck, arms, legs or lower back or a feeling of tingling or numbness. You may experience some difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or sewing. Or you may feel pain when walking or have difficulty with balance and coordination. The specific symptoms will depend on where the spine compression has occurred. For instance, if you suffer from cervical myelopathy, you often experience pain in the neck or arms.
Get the answers you need.
Because symptoms of myelopathy can be similar to other conditions, your specialist at Kayal Pain & Spine Center will often recommend tests to further narrow the diagnosis. X-rays may be taken to rule out other conditions, while an MRI may be done to examine the spinal canal for any areas of stenosis. Sometimes, an electrical test such as an electromyogram will be used to determine how your nerves are performing.
Your Kayal Pain & Spine Center specialist will provide you with an exact diagnosis for your symptoms. In some cases, myelopathy can be diagnosed in conjunction with another condition of the spinal cord. Common diagnoses are cervical stenosis with myelopathy or thoracic disc disorder with myelopathy. In some cases, the myelopathy is the result of an additional disease, such as diabetes.
Life’s too short to put up with pain.
Treatment of myelopathy will depend on the cause. In some cases, the cause is irreversible so the goal of treatment is strictly to relieve symptoms and prevent further progression.
Nonsurgical treatment for mild myelopathy will often include braces, physical therapy and medication to reduce pain and help you carry out your daily routines and activities with minimal to no pain. Nonsurgical treatment will not remove the compression. If you experience progressing symptoms, your expert team at Kayal Pain & Spine Center will explore your options with you.
Surgical treatment, such as spinal decompression surgery, is commonly used to eliminate or alleviate spinal cord pressure. Your surgeon also might recommend a procedure to remove bone spurs or herniated discs. If the myelopathy is a cause of stenosis, your Kayal Pain & Spine surgeon may recommend a laminoplasty. Our experts are here to discuss and recommend the best possible treatment for your specific condition.