What Is A Cervical Myelopathy?
Cervical Myelopathy is a spinal cord disease or dysfunction resulting from abnormal pressure being placed on the spinal cord. This condition seems to be more common among men than women and is especially frequent in patients over the age of 50 and is most likely due to several age-related degenerative processes of the spine.
What Causes A Cervical Myelopathy?
This condition can have several causes and the most common is Cervical Disc Degeneration. As we age, the intervertebral discs begin to lose height, which can cause the vertebrae above and below to rub together. As the vertebrae rub against one another bone spurs (osteophytes) can begin to form and impinge the spinal cord and narrow the spinal canal.
Rheumatoid arthritis has also been linked to Cervical Myelopathy. With RA, the body will begin to attack its own tissue, which causes the tissue to swell and compress the spinal cord. RA in the spine often attacks the lining of the spinal joints, known as the synovium, which can lead to the thickening of the facet joints. Another cause is known as ligamentum hypertrophy, which means that the ligaments connecting the vertebrae in your spine are becoming inflamed due to added stress that has been put on your spine, thus compressing the spinal cord.
In other instances, a significant disc herniation as the result of an accident or traumatic incident can cause pieces of the intervertebral disc to compress the spinal canal.
What Are The Symptoms?
Because the spinal cord helps control a variety of motor or neurological functions, the symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy can vary depending upon which level of the cervical spine is affected. The most common symptoms include:
- Stiffness or pain in the neck
- Pain that radiates into the shoulders, arms, hands or fingers
- Difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing or grasping objects
- Pain that is worsened when moving the head forward
- Problems with coordination
- Difficulty walking