Myelopathy: Definition, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment

It refers to the loss of activity of the spinal cord due to sudden injury or natural degeneration of the spine.

It is necessary to treat myelopathy proactively to maintain quality of life and prevent dangerous spinal cord deterioration.

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing myelopathy, schedule a consultation with an experienced spine surgeon to prevent this serious condition from progressing.

The spine

The spine, often referred to as the spine, is a complex system of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. In addition to supporting the weight of the upper body and facilitating movement, one of the essential functions of the spine is to house and protect the spinal cord.

The spinal cord is a set of nerve fibers connected to the brain and brain stem. Its primary function is to transmit information to the body’s peripheral nervous system.

Without a properly functioning spinal cord, the brain and the body can not communicate effectively.

For this reason, patients suffering spinal cord damage may face severe disabilities, paralysis, or life-threatening complications. Motor function, sensory abilities, and other essential aspects of health can diminish or even disappear if the spinal cord is damaged.


Causes of myelopathy

The spinal cord is most often endangered by degenerative changes in the spine, such as spinal stenosis and protrusions or herniated discs.

Our thorns lose water content and slowly reveal the consequences of years of daily use and stress as we get older.

Several spine conditions related to age can cause it to be pressed on the spinal cord. In addition to the degeneration of the spine, some of the most common causes of myelopathy are:

  • Benign or cancerous tumors compress the spinal cord.
  • Bone spurs
  • A fracture due to dislocation.
  • A traumatic injury, like the one that can happen during a car accident, a hard fall, or a high-impact sport.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Genetic proposition or congenital anomaly.

Risk factor’s

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing myelopathy, which include:

  • Smoke.
  • The abuse of alcohol.
  • Excess weight or obesity.
  • Participate in intense sports or physical activities, such as gymnastics or soccer.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Make repetitive and strenuous movements (often a problem in jobs that require a lot of material or manual work).
  • Lift heavy objects incorrectly.

If you suspect that you may be at risk of developing myelopathy, schedule a consultation with one of our spine experts to discuss the best ways to minimize the risk and maintain the highest possible level of spinal cord function.

Your spinal cord is crucial to your health and well-being, so it is essential to attend to it immediately when problems or injuries arise.

Symptoms of myelopathy

The symptoms of myelopathy vary depending on the location and severity of the spinal cord problem. However, if you are concerned about myelopathy, consider the following indications for this condition:

  • Pain in the shoulders and arms.
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs.
  • Difficult balance, especially when trying to walk.
  • Heavy feeling in the legs and inability to move quickly.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Difficulty writing.
  • Problems with bending or tilting the neck or back.
  • Vision problems, hand-eye coordination.
  • Irregular, erratic movements.
  • Changes in sexual functioning.
  • Complications of the bladder.
  • Fatigue or fragility in the extremities.
  • The feeling that the limbs are being electrocuted or shocked.

Generally, the symptoms of myelopathy will increase and intensify over time. Receiving prompt and professional medical attention is extremely important to avoid irreparable damage to the spinal cord.


If damage to the spinal cord occurs because nerve bundles are compressed, surgery is almost always necessary immediately.

However, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries elude several negative aspects of traditional open surgeries. The advantages of most minimally invasive procedures include:

  • Reduced recovery times allow patients to return to work and other daily activities more quickly.
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Lower risk of scars.
  • Lower risk of blood loss or trauma to surrounding muscles and soft tissues.
  • Fewer possible complications

Almost all treatment plans for spinal cord difficulties include conservative care methods and surgical intervention.

Some of the non-invasive modifications that may be part of your treatment or recovery plan are:

  • Physical therapy reduces tension on the spine, strengthens the muscles that support the upper part of the body, and progressively restores part of the function lost due to damage to the spinal cord.
  • Prescription or over-the-counter medications to minimize the pain associated with myelopathy.
  • Localized injections to administer analgesics directly to the affected region.