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 myelopathy is caused by:
Factors that may increase your risk of cervical myelopathy include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on any muscle weakness. A neurological exam may also be done to check your:
Imaging tests evaluate the spine and surrounding structures. These may include:
Other tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This may involve:
If there is structural pressure on the spinal cord, you may need surgery right away. This is to attempt to avoid lasting injury. There are many different kinds of surgery and procedures to stabilize the neck, such as:
Nonsurgical approaches may include:
Medications may help to relieve symptoms. Common medications include:
Other medications that affect the immune system are also sometimes used.
It is difficult to prevent this condition. Follow these guidelines to prevent accidents and strains:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
United Spinal Association
Canadian Spinal Research Organization
Cervical myelopathy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/specialty_areas/spine/conditions/cervical_myelopathy.html. Accessed November 20, 2014.
Lumbar spondylolysis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116565/Lumbar-spondylolysis. Updated July 16, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Older adult falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html. Accessed November 20, 2014.
Pollard H, Hansen L, Hoskins W. Cervical stenosis in a professional rugby league football player: a case report. Chiropr Osteopat. 2005;13:15.
Young WB. Clinical diagnosis of myelopathy. Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 1994;15(3):250-254
Young WF. Cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in older persons. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(5):1064-1070.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.