Cervical spondylotic myelopathy is characterized by compression of the spinal cord in the cervical spine (neck). This condition is potentially serious, as spinal cord compression can lead to paralysis.
The most common cause of cervical spondylotic myelopathy is the natural degenerative spinal change that happens with age. Spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the bones in the neck. As these discs degenerate and lose water content, the following may occur:
Other possible causes include neck injuries, infection of tumors or rheumatoid arthritis.
Common symptoms of cervical spondylotic myelopathy include:
Many medical sources suggest surgery as the only effective treatment for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. However, some people alleviate mild symptoms of neck pain with:
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that chiropractic care should never be used to treat spinal cord compression. However, a 2006 study conducted by the Rhode Island Spine Center suggests that cervical spinal cord compression found on an MRI might not necessarily exclude chiropractic care, which may alleviate mild spondylotic myelopathy symptoms. However, even with these recent findings, many choose to err on the side of caution and not opt for this type of treatment.
The goal of cervical spondylotic myelopathy surgery is to widen the space for the spinal cord and decompress the spinal canal, causing less neck and back pain. You'll want to discuss each surgical option with your doctor, since each has its advantages and disadvantages:
Two anterior approaches (neck surgery from the front) include discectomy and the corpectomy. After either of these procedures, the bones are fused back together with a bone graft:
Two posterior approaches (neck surgery from the back) include the laminectomy and the laminoplasty:
Because cervical spondylotic myelopathy is usually associated with aging, the best prevention methods involve making healthy lifestyle choices. In order to decrease your risk of cervical degeneration, you'll want to avoid:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Staff. (2009). Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (spinal cord compression). Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00541
Mroz, T. and Schlenk, R.P. (2010). Cervical spondylotic myelopathy requires prompt surgery. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.spineuniverse.com/professional/pathology/degenerative/cervical-spondylotic-myelopathy-requires-prompt
Murphy, D.R., Hurwitz, E.L. and Gregory, A.A. (2006). Manipulation in the presence of cervical spinal cord compression: A case series. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/ABSTRACTS/ Manipulation_in_the_Presence_of_Cervical_Spinal_Cord_Compression.shtml
Young, W.F. (2000). Cervical spondylotic myelopathy: A common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in older persons. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.neuroanatomy.wisc.edu/selflearn/CSM.htm
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions