The spinal cord is housed inside the spinal canal, beginning at the brain and ending at the lower back as a bundle of nerves. The spinal cord’s job is to send neural signals to its assigned segments of the body. In the cervical vertebrae, the spinal cord sends impulses to the arms, legs and chest. Any disruption along the cervical spinal cord’s path can result in cervical myelopathy.
What Is Cervical Myelopathy?
Cervical myelopathy is the compression of the spinal cord in the neck region. Any disorder within the cervical spinal cord that doesn’t allow for the natural transmission of messages from the brain to the body can result in myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy may specifically involve the legs, arms, hands and, in some cases, bladder or bowel control.
What Causes Cervical Myelopathy?
- Inflammatory conditions
- Autoimmune disorders
- Viral processes
Symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy
The presence and severity of symptoms related to cervical myelopathy depend on the location of the compressed spinal cord. However, common symptoms include:
- Clumsy, numb or weak hands
- Arm weakness
- Leg stiffness
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function
While pain may be a symptom in the neck, it is not typically described as severe.
Who’s at Risk?
People who were born with a small spinal canal may be more prone to developing cervical myelopathy, along with individuals who endured previous trauma to the cervical vertebrae. However, anyone with degenerating discs may also be at risk for cervical myelopathy. Finally, people who have inflammatory or autoimmune disorders may be at a higher risk for developing cervical myelopathy.
The MISI Approach to Cervical Myelopathy Treatments
However, as cervical myelopathy is a condition that affects the spinal cord, these alternative treatments may be insufficient at alleviating the symptoms. Treatment for cervical myelopathy requires the removal of the unnatural pressure to the spinal cord. Surgery is often needed to prevent progression and attempt to alleviate symptoms. It is important to discuss your individual condition with your surgeon and determine the best treatment option for you. There are several procedures to treat cervical myelopathy and the appropriate one is determined by the location of the stenosis and structure of your cervical spine. In these cases, MISI offers the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical options to alleviate your discomfort caused by cervical myelopathy.
For more information about our approach visit our treatment page here.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.