Cervical Myelopathy

What It Is

The clinical syndrome that results from a disorder in the spinal cord that disrupts or interrupts the normal transmission of the neural signals is called a “myelopathy”. For anatomical reasons, cervical myelopathy may involve the arms and hands, legs, and bowel and bladder function.


There are many causes of cervical myelopathy; anything that interrupts the normal flow of neural impulses through the spinal cord may cause a clinical myelopathy. Some of the causes are trauma, viral processes, inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, tumors or degenerative processes including spondylosis and intervertebral disc herniation.


The key to the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy is to remove the pressure from the spinal cord. The surgery is performed to prevent the progression of symptoms; clinical improvement may or may not occur. You will need to discuss your prognosis with your spine surgeon prior to making a decision to have surgery.

Some nonsurgical options exist for the purpose of relieving cervical myelopathy symptoms, including physical therapy and a collar brace. However, to eliminate the spinal cord compression and prevent worsening of the condition, specialists recommend surgery.

Your doctor may recommend a few surgical procedures for treating cervical myelopathy. Widening of the spinal canal (laminoplasty) can spare motion for some patients. Others may benefit from spine decompression surgery along with a spinal fusion, which stabilizes the spine after herniated discs, bone spurs or ossified ligaments get fully or partially removed.

Physicians can perform these surgeries from the back of the neck (posteriorly) or from the front of the neck (anteriorly). Your doctor will recommend a surgical approach based on your specific situation.