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 an orthopedic spine surgeon should be arranged.

Anatomy

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.

brain and spinal cord

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:

  1. Bone spurs. Untreated arthritis leads to the development of bone spurs, which can disturb the integrity of the spinal canal and compress the cord.
  2. 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:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter and prescription medications called NSAIDs are used to decrease pain and inflammation.
  2. 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 

Orthopedic Spine Surgeons 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 offices in Glen Rock or Maywood to arrange an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Spine Specialists. Once your condition has been evaluated and diagnosed, you’ll be prescribed a treatment plan that leads to recovery.

The spine specialists at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery treat conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine using both non-surgical and surgical modalities.  New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery is led by Dr. Dante Implicito and Dr. John Koerner. Both physicians have extensive training and experience in the utilization of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery techniques as well as non-surgical techniques.

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