Myelopathy is an injury to the nerves in your spinal cord caused by the compression of the spinal cord. Myelopathy is most common in people over the age of 55 as it is typically caused by degeneration of the discs of the spine.
There are several causes of myelopathy, the most common being a herniated disc or large bone spur. Issues can be acute and come on suddenly, or chronic and develop gradually over time. Acute myelopathy is typically caused by trauma or infection, whereas chronic myelopathy is the result of spinal stenosis or arthritis.
Depending on where in the spine compression occurs, there are different types of myelopathy.
- Cervical Myelopathy – most common, affects the neck. Generally causes weakness, numbness, and tingling in the arms, hands, and legs.
- Thoracic Myelopathy – affects the middle of the spine, symptoms typically present slowly. Generally causes weakness in your legs, loss of coordination, and difficulty walking.
- Lumbar Myelopathy – least common, affects the lower spine.
Treatment varies greatly depending on the severity of myelopathy. Your doctor will carefully evaluate your health and spinal problem to determine the best approach to providing you with the best quality of life as quickly as possible.