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 vertebrae, the spinal cord sends impulses to the arms, legs and chest. Any disruption along the spinal cord’s path can result in myelopathy.
Myelopathy is compression anywhere along the spinal cord. Any disorder within the lumbar spinal cord that doesn’t allow for the natural transmission of messages from the brain to the body can result in myelopathy.
WHAT CAUSES LUMBAR MYELOPATHY?
There are many causes for myelopathy, as myelopathy is the result of any compression sustained by the spinal cord. 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 myelopathy.
Some of the most common causes of myelopathy include:
- Inflammatory conditions
- Autoimmune disorders
- Viral processes
SYMPTOMS OF LUMBAR MYELOPATHY
The presence and severity of symptoms related to 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.
The MISI Approach to Lumbar Myelopathy Treatments
However, as myelopathy is a condition that affects the spinal cord, these alternative treatments may be insufficient at alleviating the symptoms. Treatment for 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 myelopathy and the appropriate one is determined by the location of the stenosis and structure of your spine. In these cases, MISI offers the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical options to alleviate your discomfort caused by myelopathy.
For more information about our approach visit our treatment page.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.