Cervical Myelopathy

What is cervical myelopathy, and how is it treated?

If you have neck pain or numbness, weakness, and reduced muscle function in your extremities, make an appointment with the spine experts at OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio. Our physicians offer comprehensive testing to diagnose cervical myelopathy and other spinal issues that cause similar symptoms.

What Is Cervical Myelopathy?

Cervical myelopathy is the clinical term for spinal cord compression in your neck.

Cervical myelopathy is often due to age-related wear and tear on the seven small vertebrae that comprise your neck and is more common in people over 50.

What Causes Cervical Myelopathy?

Many factors can lead to cervical myelopathy, including:

Herniated Discs

The discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine consist of a rubbery outer shell surrounding a gel-like interior. Injury and age-related changes can lead to weakness in the shell. 

herniated disc develops when the insides of a spinal disc push through the shell. There’s very little extra room in your spine, and the bulge can press on your spinal cord.

Degenerative Disc Disease and Bone Spurs

As your spinal discs become dry, they also thin, which brings your vertebrae closer together. 

This can irritate the bones and lead to the formation of bone spurs. These bone growths can narrow the space in your spinal column and compress your spinal cord.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is an autoimmune disease that attaches the synovium that lines and lubricates your joints. 

As a result, your synovium swells, leading to pain, stiffness, and nerve compression.

Neck Injuries

A neck injury sustained while playing sports or during a car accident can damage the muscles and ligaments that support your cervical vertebrae and spinal cord. 

Without sufficient support, your vertebrae can shift, or external swelling can contribute to spinal cord compression.

What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy?

Most of the time, myelopathy symptoms develop slowly, although you may experience periods of rapid progression and remission.

Some the common signs of cervical myelopathy include:

  1. Neck pain and stiffness
  2. Electrical or shooting nerve pain
  3. Weakness
  4. Numbness and tingling sensations
  5. Loss of fine motor skills
  6. Problems walking or maintaining balance

Depending on the type of nerve compression or the severity of your condition, you might experience incontinence or paralysis.

How Do You Test for Cervical Myelopathy?

If you have any signs of cervical myelopathy, make an appointment at OrthoNeuro. Our spine experts offer state-of-the-art testing to identify the root cause of your symptoms. 

Your spine specialist will review your symptoms and medical history as well as perform a physical exam. 

They may also order additional testing, such as X-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and myelography — a particular type of CT scan that uses a dye to help identify and evaluate your nerve roots.

What Are the Treatments for Cervical Myelopathy?

Our spine specialists provide personalized treatment plans for cervical myelopathy, including surgical and nonsurgical options. 

Your physician may recommend:


You may benefit from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or oral corticosteroids. 

Your doctor may also suggest an epidural steroid injection (ESI) to reduce swelling in your spine.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can address musculoskeletal irregularities that can contribute to your condition. 

Your treatment may include exercises, stretches, heat, and massage to restore the strength and flexibility of your neck.

Soft Cervical Collar

A soft cervical collar helps keep your neck still and reduces strain on your vertebrae, muscles, and connective tissue. 

In addition, allowing your neck to rest may relieve some of the swelling that can contribute to myelopathy.


When noninvasive treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to relieve the spinal compression in your neck. 

Depending on your individual needs, your spine specialist may recommend a discectomylaminectomy, or laminoplasty.

Is Surgery Necessary for Cervical Myelopathy?

The physicians at OrthoNeuro try to avoid surgery unless it’s essential. 

Your doctor will try less invasive treatments to relieve your neck pain and other symptoms and will only suggest surgery when non-invasive therapies haven’t been successful.

Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if you have any signs of cervical myelopathy and want expert, patient-focused care.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Spine Surgeon Today!

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms of cervical myelopathy, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Spine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. 

Spine Care Specialists


“I recently had surgery on my lower back. I had heard that such surgery would result in pain and cause me difficulties in doing ordinary daily tasks but, I experienced no pain and was able to do normal activities at home and at church. Also, being a bee keeper, I was able to work the hives and extract the honey from most of the hives”

James B.