Cervical myelopathy is a condition that affects the cervical or neck portion of the spinal cord. In this condition, the delicate spinal cord tissue in the neck is damaged. This interferes with proper nerve function that affects communication between the brain and body. Cervical myelopathy tends to cause impaired motor and sensory function. Typically this results in gait clumsiness, difficulty with coordination and fine motor hand control, sensory loss, muscle weakness and atrophy. Patients with cervical myelopathy may also exhibit exaggerated reflexes on clinical exam. Reflexes are exaggerated due to lack of inhibition on spinal reflexes by the brain.
Causes of Cervical Myelopathy
There are numerous insults to the spinal cord that can result in myelopathy. One of the most common causes occurs when the spinal cord is pinched or compressed by degenerative changes that take place within the bony spinal column. Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the bony spinal canal can result in abnormal compression of the cervical spinal cord which can lead to cervical myelopathy. Alternatively, a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease can also put undue pressure on the spinal cord and result in cervical myelopathy. Symptoms of cervical myelopathy may occur gradually or abruptly depending on the disease process. In either case, injury to the cervical spinal cord is most likely irreversible. Therefore it is imperative that the condition is identified and treated in an effort to prevent further irreversible neurologic damage.
Treatment for Cervical Myelopathy
WARNING: If patients or healthcare providers suspect cervical myelopathy, urgent neurosurgical evaluation is warranted!
Treatment efforts for cervical myelopathy are directed towards decompressing the spinal cord from external forces. For example, a herniated disc that compresses the spinal cord is removed thereby relieving the pressure of the disc on the cord. Similarly, a tumor that compresses the spinal cord is removed preventing further pressure damage. Often, when compressing elements are removed the bony spinal column requires repair in an effort to restore its structural integrity. This is accomplished surgically by performing a spinal fusion procedure. Unfortunately, once the spinal cord is decompressed, the patient’s lost function may not improve. However, further neurologic decline will be prevented. At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. John Lipani is a board-certified fellowship trained specialist in complex and minimally invasive spinal surgery. Dr. Lipani offers expert treatment for cervical myelopathy in the greater Princeton New Jersey area. Please feel free to call our office to learn more 609-890-3400.
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. Lipani is a board certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon in New Jersey who performs minimally invasive spine surgery as well as complex spinal surgery. Dr. Lipani is a specialist in the treatment for cervical myelopathy and many other spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, low back pain, neck pain, spinal tumors, spinal cancer and more. Dr. Lipani treats patients with cervical myelopathy from around the world, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Lipani offers image guided spine surgery approaches for cervical myelopathy treatment, tailored to the needs of each patient. For state-of-the-art cervical myelopathy treatment, call or email us to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations in Hamilton or Bridgewater, New Jersey!