Q:

Who is at risk for cervical myelopathy?

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Quick Answer

Risk factors for cervical myelopathy include certain autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, conditions such as vascular disease or degenerative disease, a history of bone or back problems, having a job or playing a sport that requires regular stretching and straining of the spine, and being born with a narrow spinal canal. Symptoms of cervical myelopathy may include pain in the shoulders or arms, tingling in the arms or legs, muscle weakness, or lightheadedness, explains Mount Sinai Hospital.

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Full Answer

A "myelopathy" is the medical term for a disorder in the spinal cord that disrupts the regular flow of neural signals, and the cervical portion of the spine is the section located in the neck. A cervical myelopathy, then is anything that disrupts the flow of neural signals through the neck, explains the Columbia University Medical Center. Specific causes of cervical myelopathy include worn or slipped cervical disks, bone spurs, autoimmune diseases, tumors, or a dislocated or fractured neck, notes Mount Sinai Hospital.

Treatments for cervical myelopathy vary depending on its cause. If a cervical disk or vertebra is responsible for the myelopathy, a surgeon may remove pieces of either, or fuse certain vertebrae together. Alternatively, treatment may involve physical, heat, or ultrasound therapy, pain or autoimmune medication, anti-inflammatories, plasmapheresis, or electrical stimulation, according to Mount Sinai Hospital.

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