What is Cervical Myelopathy?

Cervical myelopathy is a condition of the neck-portion of the spine where the spinal chord tissue has been damaged. This condition interferes with normal nerve function and can create a multitude of health issues. Nerve damage can often be irreversible, so it is important that patients see a neurological surgeon as soon as any symptoms arise.  Here is a look into the causes and treatments for cervical myelopathy.

Causes of Cervical Myelopathy

  1. Intervertebral disc degeneration. This is most commonly seen in the elderly as a consequence of aging. As fluid dissipates from the intervertebral discs, they may become brittle and compressed. Consequently, they may migrate into the spinal canal where the spinal cord is located and compress the spinal cord.
  2. Spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal column can put pressure on the spinal cord and interfere with proper cord function.
  3. Herniated discs may result in compression of the spinal cord that interferes with proper spinal cord function which ultimately affects motor and sensory function. Extremem cases can lead to paralysis.
  4. Tumors can compress the spinal cord and impair its function.
  5. Trauma can lead to spinal cord injury and impair its function.

Symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy

Symptoms of this condition may occur gradually or rapidly. Early diagnosis of this condition is imperative to prevent permanent damage to the spine.

  1. Numbness in hands, trunk or legs.
  2. Weakness in the extremities.
  3. Leg stiffness.
  4. Loss of bowls, urgency to urinate.
  5. Loss of balance, vertigo or clumsiness.
  6. Neck pain.

Symptoms can rapidly occur, and then seem to plateau for periods of time, and then accelerate again. Cervical myelopathy is a progressive condition and if left untreated, patients can progress to paralysis.

Treatments for Cervical Myelopathy

Treatment for this condition is contingent upon the cause. The main goal of treatment is to alleviate the pressure on the spinal chord. For example, if the pressure is caused by a tumor, the tumor will be removed or treatments such as radiosurgery will be used to stop the growth of the tumor to slow the progression of the disease. Generally, spinal fusion surgery is required if the offending lesion is surgically removed from the spinal cord.  However, surgery may not correct the damage that has already been done to the spine, it may only prevent further damage from occurring.

Cervical Myelopathy Treatment in NJ

If you have questions about cervical myelopathy, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lipani. Our offices are located in Hamilton, NJ, serving the greater Princeton area. We can be reached at (609) 890-3400. We look forward to serving you!

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