What Causes Cervical Myelopathy?


Quick Answer

Any condition that interrupts the regular flow of neural impulses through the body's spinal cord, such as trauma, inflammatory disorders, autoimmune disorders and viral processes, can cause cervical myelopathy, according to the Columbia University Medical Center. Degenerative diseases such as intervertebral disk herniation and spondylosis may cause the condition as well.

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The Columbia University Medical Center pays special attention to cervical myelopathy that occurs as a result of degenerative diseases, specifically calling it cervical spondylotic myelopathy. In some cases, this condition occurs as a result of congenital birth conditions where individuals are born with a spinal canal that is smaller than average. This particular form of cervical myelopathy is called congenital cervical spinal stenosis, notes the Columbia University Medical Center.

Symptoms of cervical myelopathy include numbness and clumsiness of the hands, weak arms and hands, stiff legs, and difficulty balancing. These symptoms often occur at highly variable rates in different individuals and typically progress in patterns of rapid change followed by stable periods in an unpredictable manner. Doctors treating cervical myelopathy typically attempt to remove pressure affecting the spinal cord through surgery, explains the Columbia University Medical Center. Surgeons treating this condition either approach the spinal cord from the front or back of the neck or combine approaches depending on the location of the affected area.

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