Myelopathy, also referred to as spinal cord compression, is one of the most common causes of cervical or neck pain in people over age 55 in the United States. Myelopathy describes any neurologic deficit related to the spinal cord. Myelopathy is usually caused by compression of the spinal cord by osteophyte (bony) growth or extruded disc material in the cervical spine.
The pain associated with myelopathy may be caused by problems in the vertebrae and facet joints of your spine, as well as in the muscles, ligaments, and nerves of your spine.
Myelopathy is commonly treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center using both minimally invasive surgery and non-surgical methods as required by our board certified spine surgeons.
A majority of patients treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center report an improvement in their condition.
Pain and other symptoms in the early stages tend to be mild in nature, but can increase if the condition is ignored or left untreated. Common symptoms include:
- Neck stiffness
- Deep aching pain in neck
- Pain arms and shoulders
- Stiffness and weakness in your legs
- Difficulty when walking
- Crackling sensation in the neck
Non-Surgical treatment for myelopathy generally consists of a combination of temporary immobilization of the neck, steroidal and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen), as well as physical therapy.
A spine surgeon will work to explore all treatment options to identify the most effective and least invasive method to treat chronic pain caused as a result of myelopathy. If surgery is required to treat myelopathy, a laminotomy is typically suggested by spine surgeons.
A laminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that deals with removal of the lamina, the flattened or arched part of the vertebral arch. A board certified spine surgeon creates a small hole above the spinal nerve. After, the surgeon removes a portion of the lamina, the flattened or arched part of the vertebral arch, in smaller parts on one or both sides of the spine creating small holes between the laminae to decompress the spinal cord.
Who Should Consider Myelopathy Surgery?
Surgery should be considered for individuals who have failed conservative treatment with medications and injections, or those with symptoms that are so severe that they are starting to lose significant function and are at risk for permanent nerve damage.
All risks and benefits of spine surgery should be considered before making a decision. Your spine surgeon will discuss all available options and treatments.
Results of Myelopathy Surgery
Surgery is successful in relieving back pain in a majority of patients. A majority of patients with acute or severe back pain can benefit more from a laminotomy to treat myelopathy.