Cervical myelopathy is a painful neck condition that occurs due to compression of the cervical spinal cord as a result of gradual wear and tear changes in the spine because of aging, overuse, or injury/trauma to the cervical spine. Dr. Nicholas Spina is a fellowship-trained Orthopaedic spine specialist at the University of Utah who specializes in treating degenerative, traumatic, and oncologic conditions of the spine with a main objective of restoring patients’ function and helping them to regain their optimal lifestyle. Dr. Nicholas Spina provides diagnosis and individualized management for cervical myelopathy in Utah. Contact Dr. Spina’s team for an appointment today!
What is Cervical Myelopathy?
Disc protrusion, also called herniated disc, is a condition caused by a tear in an intervertebral disc, allowing the disc contents to bulge out. Cervical myelopathy refers to compression of the spinal cord within the neck.
Causes of Cervical Myelopathy
Conditions that can cause myelopathy include:
- Degenerative disc disease: Wear and tear of the discs between the vertebrae, causing them to lose their cushioning ability
- Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal as we age, most commonly due to degenerative arthritis
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis: Degeneration (wear and tear) of the vertebral components, usually occurring after age 50, causing slippage of a vertebra onto another, spinal stenosis and narrowing of the spinal canal
Symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy
Myelopathy presents with weakness, problems manipulating small objects and difficulty with a normal gait.
Diagnosis of Cervical Myelopathy
In addition to a complete history and physical examination, your doctor may order spine X-ray, MRI or CT scans, electromyography and nerve conduction studies to diagnose cervical myelopathy.
Treatment Options for Cervical Myelopathy
When conservative treatment measures such as rest, medication, physical therapy, and pain-blocking injections are ineffective, your surgeon may recommend spine surgery.
The most common spine surgery to relieve your symptoms of nerve root compression involves removing the disc and fusing the two vertebrae above and below it with a bone graft. A newer treatment option is now available to replace the herniated disc with an artificial disc. Artificial discs are used in place of a bone fusion to preserve your neck’s movement and flexibility.
A decompressive laminectomy and fusion is a common surgery performed to treat cervical myelopathy. It is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the bone or lamina causing pressure on the nerves is removed. In spinal fusion, a piece of bone taken from another part of your body is transplanted between the adjacent spinal bones (vertebrae). As healing occurs, the bone fuses with the spine.
If you are experiencing debilitating pain due to cervical myelopathy, please contact the office of Dr. Nicholas Spina, orthopaedic spine specialist treating patients in Salt Lake City and Farmington, Utah.