Cervical Myelopathy occurs when the part of the spinal cord located in the neck is damaged. This condition starts from the base of the skull and moves on all the way to join the first seven vertebrae. In most cases, the condition arises due to the compression of the bones that make up the spinal cord, mainly because of wear and tear that happens as one ages. Life expectancy reports show that if preventive measures are embraced, one could live to never get Cervical Myelopathy, even past the age of 70.
Due to the fact that the spinal cord carries several nerve impulses to different areas of the body, patients who suffer with Cervical Myelopathy will have different symptoms. This occurs mostly to individuals who are 50 years or older, but it is advisable to seek the opinion of a medical professional when any of the symptoms leading to Cervical Myelopathy are felt.
The human spinal cord is a combination of 24 bones referred to as vertebrae. These bones are stacked on top of each other, with seven small of them starting at the base of your skull, forming the neck (cervical spine). Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy affects the cervical spine.
Spinal cord and nerves The human spinal cord runs from the skull and stretches through the vertebrae in a middle part referred to as the central canal. Through openings located in the vertebrae, several nerves branch out, which transfer message from the brain to the muscles and vice versa. If any part of this setup is affected or altered, one could get into serious health conditions and this could be a serious threat to the life expectancy of a person.
Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy is caused by degenerative changes that affect the spine as one gets older. These changes happen in the discs and are also referred to as arthritis or spondylosis. The life expectancy of someone who is suffering from arthritis is a bit lower than that of an individual who is free from the same condition. Note that these are normal changes that can happen to anyone, middle-aged or older. Some patients experience painful symptoms while others do not until the condition is at its peak, and professionals are yet to get an explanation to the latter case.
Bone spurs. As one ages, the disks forming the spine also age and lose their height due to wear and tear, thereby leading to a bulging effect. The disks also lose water, something that stiffens them due to drying out. These events lead to settling or collapse to the disk spaces and height.
Consequently, the vertebrae knit close together. Normally, when the body senses some deficiency in the bone structure, more bones (bone spurs) will be formed around the disk to offer reinforcement. This further stiffens the spine and also makes the canal of the spine narrow.
Herniated disk. Disk herniation occurs when the center of the spine squeezes against the outer ring. If this disk is worn, it becomes easier for the nucleus to squeeze through, thereby pressing the spinal cord and nerves.
Cervical Myelopathy can also arise due to other factors that lead to the compression of the spinal cord. One of the cases documented in this category is rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system launches an attack on its tissues. In this case, the immune cells attack the membrane lines available at the joints.
Typically Cervical Myelopathy occurs gradually and the symptoms show up slowly and increase steadily for several years. However, in some patients, the condition worsens rapidly. If these symptoms are detected early enough, which many people fail to do, then there could be no effect on the life expectancy of patients because treatment could be to counter the effects of Cervical Myelopathy.
Most patients have the following symptoms:
Once you discuss your medical history with your doctor, you will be requested to state the symptoms you have faced for a certain period of time. The doctor will conduct physical examination to ascertain whether there are any changes. Other tests include X-Ray imaging and MRI scans.
If non surgical treatment does not offer relief to your symptoms, the doctor may opt for surgical treatment, which is more effective.