This problem may be caused by:
- A slipped disc
- Worn cervical discs
- Tumors inside the spinal cord or pushing on the spinal cord
- Bone spurs
- Dislocation or fracture of the neck
- Traumatic injury to the cervical spine
- Problems with the immune system, such as transverse myelitis, multiple sclerosis , or neuromyelitis optica
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Poor blood supply
- Problems with the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis , multiple sclerosis, or neuromyelitis optica
- Vascular disease
- Degenerative disease
- A history of bone or back problems
- History of cancer involving the bones
- Being born with a narrow spinal canal
- Jobs or sports that involve regular stretching and straining of spine
Problems may be:
- Pain in the shoulder and arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs
- Trouble walking or balancing
- Muscle weakness
- Problems flexing the neck
- Problems with fine motor control, such as buttoning a shirt
- Unusual movements
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Weakness below the waist or in all four limbs
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on any muscle weakness. A neurological exam may also be done.
Images may be taken of the spine. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT myelogram
Other tests may be:
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Somatosensory evoked potentials
- Visual evoked potential test (VEP)
The cause will need to be treated. Symptoms may be managed with:
- Physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion
- Occupational therapy to help with daily tasks and self-care
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
Some people may need surgery to ease pressure on the spinal cord. Choices are:
- Discectomy —to remove part of an intervertebral disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root
- Laminectomy —to remove a portion of a vertebra called the lamina
- Fusion of the vertebrae
|Screws and a plate prevent the vertebrae from putting pressure on the spinal cord.|
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Myelopathy, Cervical)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
United Spinal Association http://www.spinalcord.org
Canadian/American Spinal Research Organizations http://www.csro.com
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Altaf F, Heran MK, et al. Back pain in children and adolescents. Bone Joint J. 2014 Jun;96-B(6):717-723.
Cervical myelopathy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/orthopaedic%5Fdisorders/CervicalMyelopathy%5F22,CervicalMyelopathy. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Lumbar spondylolysis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/lumbar-spondylolysis. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Older adult falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html. Accessed January 26, 2021.