If you are someone over the age of 55 who is dealing with cervical or neck pain, your problems could be due to myelopathy. Myelopathy, also known as spinal cord compression, affects the health and function of the spinal cord.

The Symptoms of Myelopathy

The most common symptoms of this condition include aching or throbbing pain on either one or both sides of the neck, as well as neck stiffness. You may notice a clicking or crackling sound when you move your neck. It’s also not uncommon for those with myelopathy to notice stabbing pain or numbness in the extremities.

These symptoms usually appear slowly over the course of many years, so many patients may not even know that they have this condition for a long time.

The Causes

Myelopathy is one of the most common causes of neck pain in older adults. Since our bodies put up with a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis, it seems only natural that as we get older that the stress and burden placed on our spine can cause deterioration. Over time, the joints, discs, muscles, nerves and ligaments of the spine wear down, which can result in myelopathy.

Another issue that happens as we get older is that the discs in the spine start to calcify, which can increase your chances of spinal cord compression. This additional stress placed on the joints of the spine can cause degeneration. Over time, a degenerated disc can become herniated, which puts even more stress on the spinal cord.

Car accidents, falls and sports-related injuries can also cause myelopathy. Any injuries that impact the health of your ligaments or muscles of the spinal cord can put you at an increased risk for this condition.

How Myelopathy is Treated

The only way to actually decompress the spinal cord is to perform surgery. Of course, this isn’t always the best course of action for patients dealing with milder symptoms. Those with milder forms of myelopathy may be required to wear a cervical brace. We can also provide you with special exercises to help improve neck strength and mobility. Pain medications and spinal manipulation may also be successful ways to manage symptoms of myelopathy.

If we recommend surgery, there are multiple approaches we can take to decompress the spine. Common surgical procedures for myelopathy include a laminotomy or an anterior cervical approach. During your surgery a spinal fusion may also be performed to reduce your chances for further complications after surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with myelopathy or want to learn more about your treatment options then call our Fort Worth, TX office at (817) 377-0143.