One of the most common causes of nerve pain is what is known as cervical myelopathy. The condition, which is most often seen in patients over the age of 50, is characterized by the compression of the spinal cord. Common symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. When symptoms don’t respond to rest and activity modification, an appointment with a neurosurgeon should be arranged.
The spinal cord starts at the base of the skull and runs to the lower back. As it travels through the spinal canal, it branches out to innervate the muscles and organs of the body.
Illustration 1-The spinal cord and canal
Any disruption in the integrity of the cord can cause any or any combination of the above-mentioned symptoms. In most cases, symptom and compression severity go hand-in-hand.
Causes of Cervical Myelopathy
Arthritis and injury are the two main causes of cervical myelopathy. Patients who develop abnormalities in the vertebrae of their spine due to these two causes can in turn develop:
- Bone spurs. Untreated arthritis leads to the development of bone spurs, which can disturb the integrity of the spinal canal and compress the cord.
- A herniated disc. The intervertebral discs of the back act as spacers between adjacent vertebrae. A herniated, or slipped, disc is one that protrudes into the spinal canal.
As is the case with many spine conditions, symptom treatment depends on cause, severity, and other factors.
Treatments for Cervical Myelopathy
The goal of treatment is to take pressure off the cord.
Non-surgical treatment options are always tried first. They include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter and prescription medications called NSAIDs are used to decrease pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy. Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the spine can provide relief.
If patients do not respond to conservative treatment, effective minimally invasive surgical options can be considered. The goal of these minimally invasive procedures is to remove the small pieces of bone or disc material that are compressing the nerve and thus decompressing the spinal nerve.
Seeking Treatment for Cervical Myelopathy
Neurosurgeons are highly trained and qualified medical professionals who treat cervical myelopathy, and other spine conditions/injuries. If you’re experiencing spine pain, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to arrange an appointment with one of our specialists. Once your condition has been evaluated and diagnosed, you’ll be prescribed a treatment plan that leads to recovery.
If you’re experiencing back pain or neck pain that won’t go away on its own, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices in Agoura Hills, Valencia or Palmdale, CA to arrange an appointment. Highly trained neurosurgeon, Dr. Anthony Virella, will examine your condition/injury and come up with a treatment option that’s right for you. The road to a full recovery will begin when you walk through our doors.
Dr. Anthony Virella is a Board-Certified, Fellowship trained Neurological Spine Surgeon with advanced training in the management of complex spinal disorders. He attended medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and is a graduate of the UCLA Neurosurgery Residency Program. Dr. Virella is a nationally recognized specialist in the field of complex and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.