Possible causes of myelopathy include natural wear and tear, injuries, and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reports DePuy Synthes Spine. Congenital vertebral abnormalities, infections and tumors are rare causes.
Daily pressure on the spine triggers degenerative changes as people age, leading to drying and calcification of the spinal discs and causing disc compression and loss of space between the facet joints, explains DePuy Synthes Spine. The cartilage responsible for the proper functioning of the joints in the spine receive extra stress, leading to a repeated process of degeneration. When a herniated disc results from disc degeneration, the spine suffers extra pressure because the herniated disc pushes against the spinal cord or nerve roots. If bone spurs develop, the spinal cord becomes compressed due to narrowing of the spinal canal.
Injuries from falls, sports or vehicle accidents often cause myelopathy and also may lead to central cord syndrome, notes DePuy Synthes Spine. These types of injuries damage the muscles and ligaments that maintain spine stability. They are also common causes of joint dislocations and broken bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually harms the joints in the spine and affects the upper neck region, according to DePuy Synthes Spine. Patients with myelopathy experience a stiff neck and intense pain in either or both sides of the neck. The pain sometimes reaches the arms and shoulders. Some myelopathy patients also suffer stiff, weak legs and find it hard to walk.