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Myelopathy is damage to the spinal cord due to severe compression often resulting from trauma, congenital stenosis, degenerative disease or disc herniation. Sometimes accompanied by radiculopathy, it can occur in any area of the spine:

  • Cervical myelopathy, the most common spinal disorder in Americans over 55, occurs in the neck
  • Thoracic myelopathy occurs in the middle region of the spine
  • Lumbar myelopathy, a rare condition, affects the spinal cord in the lower (lumbar) spine

Common Myelopathy Symptoms

Myelopathy typically develops slowly as result of the gradual degeneration of the spine. While subtle at first, symptoms can include:

  • Neck, arm, leg or lower back pain or stiffness
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness
  • Loss of dexterity
  • Increased reflexes in extremities
  • Difficulty walking
  • Imbalance or other coordination issues
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence

Exact symptoms depend on where the myelopathy is present in the spine.

Myelopathy Risk Factors

Risk factors for cervical myelopathy, the most common form, include:

  • Age
  • A physically demanding occupation
  • Previous neck injuries
  • Genetic factors
  • Tobacco use

Myelopathy Treatment

Myelopathy treatment depends on the causes of myelopathy. Nonsurgical treatments like bracing, physical therapy and medication may be recommended for mild conditions in an effort to reduce pain and help you return to your daily activities.

More severe condition may require surgical intervention to relieve the pressure on your spinal cord. Minimally invasive spine surgery often offers relief with a lower risk for complications and a potentially faster recovery than conventional open surgery procedures.

To learn more, call 330.835.5533 to schedule an appointment with a Summa spine specialist.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.