Cervical Myelopathy

Cervical myelopathy causes numbness in the hands, clumsiness of the fingers and unsteadiness of the legs. It often develops slowly, without pain and may not be noticed until symptoms are quite advanced. Typically, there are difficulties writing, turning a key, holding a knife and fork, unsteadiness on the feet and falls. At times bladder and bowel function may be impaired as well. The most common cause is degenerative change of the cervical spine with compression of the spinal cord in the spinal canal.  Pain in the arms may accompany cervical myelopathy if the exiting nerve roots are also compressed and inflamed (cervical radiculopathy).

Medical terminology:

  • Spondylosis = arthritis of the spine
  • Disc degeneration = a part of spondylosis
  • Spinal canal = central spinal canal for the spinal cord
  • Stenosis (of the spinal canal) = narrowing with constriction of the spinal cord
  • Spondylolisthesis = slippage of one vertebra on another
  • Myelopathy = damage to the spinal cord