What is Cervical Myelopathy?
Cervical myelopathy or Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) as it is sometimes called, is a condition affecting the neck that arises as a result of the spinal cord becoming compressed or squeezed. For the most part, due to the normal wear and tear of aging, the spinal discs and vertebrae begin to deteriorate. As they deteriorate, they are forced out of alignment and become damaged, causing them to compress the spinal cord.
Causes of Cervical Myelopathy
Cervical Myelopathy occurs as a result of the deterioration of the spinal discs and vertebrae, through normal wear and tear of aging. The main causes of Cervical Myelopathy include:
- Cervical Disc Degermation – Over time, as the discs deteriorate, they begin to lose alignment and compress the spinal cord.
- Bone Spurs – Again, as a result of aging, the spinal discs begin to dry out, causing them to flatten out and bulge at the sides. As this happens the vertebrae get closer, and begin to fuse together creating bone spurs in the process. These bone spurscause the spine to stiffen up, and narrow the spinal canal – compressing the spinal cord.
- Herniated Disc – As the disc ruptures, it pushes on the spinal cord and the spinal nerves causing a great deal of compression.
- Accident, Injury, or Trauma
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Generally, when it comes to Cervical Myelopathy, symptoms get progressively worse and worse, over the course of a few years. The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle Weakness – In the arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers.
- Burning or Tingling Sensation – In the arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers.
- Loss of Motor Skills.
- Poor Balance and Coordination.
- Pain – In the neck, arms, shoulders, and upper back.
- Stiffness in the Neck and Spine.
For the milder cases of Cervical Myelopathy, surgery is not required. These methods are generally used to manage symptoms and alleviate pain issues.
Non-Surgical Options include:
- Physical Therapy
- Cervical Collar – a padded ring that wraps around the neck and is held in place with Velcro. Gives the neck muscles a rest and limits the motion of the neck so they can all heal.
- Medication – Anti-Inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, used in conjunction.
- Spinal Injections – Epidural injections and corticosteroids.
Surgery is required for the more severe Cervical Myelopathy cases, that do not respond to other treatment. For these patients surgery is designed to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, depending on the root cause.
- Decompression Surgery – To eliminate the compression on the spine and the surrounding nerves.
- Discectomy Surgery – To remove a damaged or deteriorated disc in order to eliminate the spinal compression.
For more information about Cervical Myelopathy, other spinal issues or to schedule a consultation contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.