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How Do I Know if I Have Myelopathy?

People with myelopathy may find that they have trouble with activities requiring coordination, like walking downstairs or tying your shoes. It is common to experience issues with finding your balance, walking, or muscle weakness.

Because myelopathy can be caused by a number of different pathologies, the process for determining its origin can be extensive.

In some cases, with a sudden accident or trauma, the onset of the condition can be rapid. In the most common form of myelopathy, cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), the symptoms develop more slowly over time, as a result of degeneration and aging. Disorders like osteoporosis can affect the spinal column, and cause myelopathy.

Symptoms may go unnoticed initially, but you should consult your doctor if you start to experience any of the following:

  • Sudden weakness in the muscles
  • Difficulty in finding your balance
  • Problems performing activities that require hand-eye coordination, like tying your shoes

What is the Right Treatment for Me?

The proper treatment for myelopathy depends on its cause.

The most effective treatment for myelopathy is typically by decompressing the spine through surgery. This helps to prevent additional progression of the myelopathy and provide some relief from the symptoms.

There are several surgical procedures used to treat myelopathy, dependent on the location of the symptoms and the condition of the spine. These include:

Laminectomy: removal of the back of one or more vertebrae, which helps to relieve pressure on the nerves.

Laminoplasty: removal of any thickened ligament, which expands the spinal canal and elevates the lamina (the arched portion of the vertebrae that forms the “roof” of the spinal canal)

Discectomy: removal of a herniated disc, to relieve pressure on the nerves

Corpectomy: removal of the damaged part of the vertebra and adjacent discs

If you’re experiencing pain or your condition has started to worsen, consult with your doctor, or make an appointment with the Q Spine Institute team to discuss the best kind of treatment for you.

Myelopathy Quick Facts

Common Symptoms:

  • Subtle changes in hand function
  • “Clumsy” hands – dropping objects due to loss of function
  • Unsteadiness while walking
  • Significant weakness and numbness in arms and legs
  • Changes in bowel or bladder control (rare cases only)

Common Causes:

  • 1 cause: Spinal Stenosis
  • Damage or injury to the spinal cord
  • Disc degeneration disease

A commonly ignored condition, due to its gradual nature

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