Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center in Mesa, AZ (serving the metro Phoenix area), is a venue for superb orthopedic spine surgery. Our center frequently deals with patients with Cervical Myelopathy. This condition is described below:
Cervical Myelopathy is a general term used to describe a situation where there is compromise to the spinal cord (the delicate tissue housed within the spinal column that transmits information from your brain to your body and visa versa.) The spinal cord can be compromised by a number of processes, which may occur individually or in combination. The most common form of spinal cord compromise is known as Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy. It most commonly occurs in older individuals. During aging, degenerative changes can occur in the cervical spine, most commonly associated with disc degeneration and arthritis that can cause compression of the spinal cord. In these cases, narrowing of the spinal canal, the bony canal that runs down the middle of the spinal column, can be caused by arthritic outgrowths called osteophytes. These can also be associated with other processes that can further narrow the canal such as herniated discs and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy (an abnormal overgrowth of a tough ligament that reinforces the inside wall of the spinal canal.)
Common Symptoms of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy include:
- Persistent Neck stiffness.
- Aching neck, arm and shoulder pain.
- Numbness and tingling in the hands.
- Dull “achy” feeling in the arm.
- Weakness and/or clumsiness of the hands and/or legs.
- Weakness or stiffness in the legs (widely regarded as the most common symptom.)
- Abnormal bladder and bowel function (which may be subtle in nature.)
- Electric shock-like sensation down the spine when the neck is flexed forward
Diagnosis of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy (CSM)
The diagnosis of CSM often involves ruling out other conditions that may mimic spinal cord compromise. This may involve examining X-rays, MRIs and Electrodiagnostic Tests (EMG/NCV). The diagnosis of CSM will always involve a thorough physical examination.
Orthopedic Spine Surgery for Cervical Myelopathy
Once cervical myelopathy has occurred, spinal surgery is often necessary. The primary objective in these cases is to decompress the spinal cord by creating more space inside the canal so that the spinal cord and nerves are less restricted. There are several, surgical approaches that can be utilized. These will depend on the individual case and the appropriate approach as determined by a trained orthopedic spine surgeon.
Cervical Laminectomy is one of the more commonly utilized, surgical approaches for cervical myelopathy: