Cervical Myelopathy

(Myelopathy, Cervical)

Definition

Cervical myelopathy is damage to the part of the spinal cord that is in the neck. The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull. It extends to the first seven vertebrae.
Cervical Spine
Cervical Spine
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Cervical myelopathy is caused by:
  • A slipped disk
  • Cervical disks that are worn, known as degeneration
  • Tumors inside the spinal cord or compressing on the spinal cord
  • Bone spurs
  • Dislocation or fracture of the neck
  • Traumatic injury to the cervical spine
  • Autoimmune disease, such as transverse myelitis, multiple sclerosis, or neuromyelitis optica

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of cervical myelopathy include:
  • Infections
  • Ischemia—restriction of blood supply
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis , multiple sclerosis , neuromyelitis optica; or other conditions, such as vascular disease or degenerative disease
  • History of bone or back problems
  • Being born with a narrow spinal canal
  • Job or sport involving regular stretching and straining of spine
  • History of cancer involving the bones

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
  • Pain in the shoulder and arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Trouble walking or balancing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems flexing the neck
  • Lightheadedness
  • Problems with fine motor control, such as buttoning a shirt
  • Irregular movements
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Weakness below the waist or in all four limbs

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