8:30am to 5:00pm    |    P: 561.630.3870

Compression of the spinal cord

  • Does this run in families?Some patients genetically have smaller spinal canals (congenital stenosis) and this means they are more at risk for myelopathy than other patients. This tends to run in families.
  • What is a laminoplasty?A laminoplasty is a procedure that avoids fusion in the neck, and maintains your motion. We open the spinal canal a little bit and this restores the space for the spinal cord to prevent and compression.
  • Is cervical myelopathy dangerous?Potentially yes, you are at an increased risk compared to the general population for paralysis or permanent injury to the spinal cord, especially if you fall or are involved in an automobile accident.

Compression of the spinal cord causes the signals it carries to get mixed, and leads to a loss of function. Initially they can be quite subtle, with difficulty with balance when your eyes are closed (washing your hair in the shower) or being more clumsy than normal. Over time it can progress to falling over and being unable to walk anymore.
Cervical myelopathy is often, but not always accompanied with cervical radiculopathy (pain/numbness radiating into arms/hands)
Patients will tend to deteriorate over time due to worsening compression secondary to arthritis and disc bulging.

Symptoms of cervical myelopathy may include:

Loss of balance - patients often say they have loss of balance when walking
Dropping items
Being more clumsy than usual
Pain radiating down the neck into the back

Treating Cervical Myelopathy

Around 70% of patients will improve their balance/symptoms after surgery for myelopathy. Due to this we usually recommend surgery before you become so symptomatic you are falling over. Treatment options vary depending on how many disc levels are compression your spinal cord, or if there is any instability in your neck

Saville Spine Institute may recommend any or all of the following treatments to patients:

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the most common questions patients ask about cervical myelopathy.

  • I’ve been told I need a large fusion to treat myelopathy, are there other options?

    Often a laminoplasty can be done instead of a fusion, not all doctors offer this as its a harder procedure.

  • Will removing the pressure fix my symptoms?

    In most cases yes, but not always. We usually advise patients the goal is to prevent further deterioration, but we hope to see an improvement.

  • Can you treat myelopathy with a disc replacement?

    Yes, disc replacements are an excellent option in the correct patients.

  • I’m scared you’re operating on my spinal cord, is this safe?

    Yes, if done by a fellowship trained spine surgeon it is safe. We utilize many techniques to keep you safe, including neuro monitoring to ensure the spinal cord is healthy and safe.