Cervical myelopathy is a condition that goes beyond a simple morning-time crick in your neck. Chronic neck pain can make daily life challenging and reduce your overall quality of life. Here’s what you need to know about cervical myelopathy, including common symptoms and our treatment options. If you need more information, get in touch with the team at North Texas Neurosurgical Consultants. We’re here to help.
The vertebrae of our cervical spine are vulnerable, with four separate joints in each vertebra that help them move (two facet joints and two unconvertable joints). The intervertebral discs provide cushioning between these vertebrae. Ligaments and tendons provide stability to the spinal column. As we age, our intervertebral discs naturally begin to flatten and lose their supportive bounce. Ligaments loosen and lengthen and may struggle to recover from overuse, strain, or injury. Cervical myelopathy (also called cervical spondylotic myelopathy or spinal cord compression) is compression of the spinal cord in the neck due to this wear and tear that occurs as we age. It can also occur due to other issues, as noted below.
This compression can lead to cervical myelopathy symptoms that include:
Difficulty grasping objects
Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the hands and arms
Difficulty walking (no dizziness but an inability to coordinate the body)
Stiffness in the neck
Fewer fine motor skills
As the condition progresses, pain may radiate down the arms, across the shoulders, and into the upper back. There are generally four stages of cervical myelopathy development.
Disc degeneration: Discs start to weaken and deteriorate
Joint degeneration: Joints experience more stress with less cushion and can develop bone spurs
Ligament changes: Ligaments stretch and become strained
Deformity: Kyphosis, an excessive outward curve of the cervical spine, can be the final presentation of this condition