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Cervical myelopathy: symptoms, causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Cervical myelopathy is a chronic condition, in which the cervical vertebrae exert pressure on the spinal cord, it is generally caused by cervical osteoarthritis , which produces degenerative changes; This condition has a higher incidence in older adults and men. The symptoms will depend on the degree of pressure that the spinal cord supports , however, if it is not treated in time, it can generate an alteration in the blood supply to the area that is compressed. At FastlyHealwe explain the symptoms, causes and treatment of cervical myelopathy .

Symptoms of cervical myelopathy

The symptoms that the patient may present will depend on how advanced the cervical myelopathy is, the degree of spinal compression and the time since it has been suffered. However, there are cases in which symptoms have not been shown until it is already in a chronic stage.

In general, the symptoms that appear tend to increase gradually, unless due to trauma or minimal overuse they develop quickly and suddenly. In order of appearance, we show you the symptoms of cervical myelopathy :

  • Cervical pain.
  • Difficulty in manual dexterity : the patient has problems to open and close the hand in a continuous movement and to hold small objects, the extension and adduction movement of the little and ring fingers is also difficult.
  • Weakness in the legs : mostly one leg is more affected than the other, so there is a decrease in balance and the patient, to improve this condition, will expand his base of support, which results in a characteristic walk.
  • Changes in sensitivity : an increase in sensitivity to touch is common, so it becomes painful when in contact with other things, there may also be a tingling sensation in the extremities . In severe cases, a decrease or loss of sensitivity has been observed, which is involved in coordination, balance, muscle movement, bone sensitivity, reflexes, among others.
  • In chronic stages, patients come to suffer from sexual dysfunction and incontinence.
  • Spinal syndromes : they occur if cervical myelopathy is not treated or has been left for a long time and is already in a serious stage. The most frequent syndromes are the centromedullary, cross-sectional and Brown-Sequard syndromes.

Causes of cervical myelopathy

There are several causes that can cause cervical myelopathy , either due to a complication of another disease or trauma.

  • Cervical stenosis : the most common cause of cervical myelopathy is stenosis, it has been observed in 55% of cases. When a stenosis occurs, the size of the spinal canal is reduced, thus putting pressure on the spinal cord .
  • Cervical osteoarthritis : this degenerative disease, in which the cartilage that is in the joints of the vertebrae wears down.
  • Cervical spondylosis : Cervical spondylosis myelopathy is uncommon, and the spinal cord is generally able to tolerate pressure from this disease well. In this case, for a myelopathy to occur it is necessary that the subject already has a reduced central canal, and a degenerative change or trauma that can complicate it.
  • Posterior lateral ligament ossification : This condition is rare and is more likely to occur in men than in women. Possibly the extension of the ligament, beyond what is normal, presses on the spinal cord, which can cause cervical myelopathy, mainly in people over 50 years of age, although it can also occur at a younger age.
  • Posterior lateral ligament hypertrophy : the appearance of cervical myelopathy due to posterior lateral ligament hypertrophy occurs due to the evolution of other conditions that triggers the excessive growth of the ligament, for example, the deterioration of the cervical disc.
  • Hernia : another cause of cervical myelopathy is the presence of a hernia that reduces the dimension of the canal and in turn compresses the spinal cord.
  • Trauma and tumors : Generally, one trauma is enough for other conditions to be triggered and produce cervical myelopathy, but there are also occasions when the force of a trauma or a tumor causes the appearance of this condition.

Treatment for cervical myelopathy

It consists of osteopathy techniques , a method based on the massage of the joints, and is used in cases of mild cervical myelopathy . This treatment does not remedy the myelopathy itself, rather it focuses on alleviating symptoms, restoring neurological functions and reducing pain so that the patient leads a better quality of life.

In order to use these techniques, it is necessary that the specialist has examined your condition and identified the cause, since the treatments are not the same for everyone and will be adjusted to the needs of the patient. Likewise, the patient should be followed during and after applying the techniques, mainly to see if they do not worsen the affected neurological functions or symptoms. In conservative treatment, articulatory techniques, gentle accessory movement, traction, and neurodynamic techniques are frequently used.

Surgical treatment

Generally, surgical treatment is performed in people with chronic or moderate to chronic cases of cervical myelopathy, when the deterioration of neurological functions can cause serious consequences if it continues to develop. For example, in patients with neurogenic bladder, damage to the functions of the hands or legs and that conservative treatment has not worked.

The surgery cervical myelopathy is performed to expand the spinal canal is compressing the spinal cord. This supposes an improvement in the symptoms and functions of the patient, in addition it would stop the advance of the myelopathy. However, full recovery is not assured, since it will depend on the stage in which the myelopathy was found, how extensive the damage was, if the cause is recurrent and the patient’s predisposition to this condition.

It is important to see a doctor if you have had any of the symptoms of cervical myelopathy or if you suspect that you might have it. Depending on your condition, it will indicate which procedure is best for you.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cervical myelopathy: symptoms, causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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