When to Seek Treatment for Cervical Myelopathy in NYC

March 14th, 2019

How Do Spine Specialists Treat Cervical Myelopathy?

Breaking down the words “cervical spondylotic myelopathy” can help affected patients understand their condition. The “cervical” region of the spine consists of seven vertebrae, together known as the neck. “Spondylosis” refers to age-related degeneration (think “wear-and-tear”) that impacts the spine. “Myelopathy” indicates spinal cord compression, which may result from spondylosis, disc herniation, or a traumatic injury.

If you have this condition and live in the area, you may be wondering what cervical myelopathy treatment in NYC will mean for you. The short answer is also the most frustrating: it depends upon your unique situation. Each case of this disease varies in severity. While some patients may do well with conservative treatments, others may need a surgical procedure to address the structural issues and alleviate pain. A spine specialist at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute can evaluate the condition of your cervical spine and determine the best course of treatment for you.

Treating Cervical Myelopathy in NYC

When you come in for a spinal examination, your doctor will ask about your medical health and symptoms. As she or he conducts a physical examination, the doctor will look for:

  • Overactive or unusual reflexes

  • Difficulty walking or imbalanced coordination

  • Atrophy

  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms, hands, neck, or shoulders

Patients with cervical myelopathy may present any combination of the above symptoms. Many of these symptoms result from the interruption of nerve impulse flow in the spinal cord.

Spine specialists can know for certain if the patient has this condition by ordering imaging tests. A myelo-CT scan, for example, enables doctors to view the inside of the spinal canal and check for bulging or herniated discs that are causing compression. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can also be used to view the spinal cord and surrounding components. Furthermore, x-rays may be ordered to rule out other disorders.

As with many spine conditions, the level of treatment a patient receives depends on the severity of the degeneration and spinal cord compression. Mild compression may only necessitate conservative treatment options. Physical therapy for cervical myelopathy can strengthen the muscles in your neck as well as increase flexibility. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to reduce pain and inflammation.

What about patients with severe pain, or those who have not had success with conservative care methods? For these patients, spine specialists will determine whether or not surgery is necessary. Optimal candidates will have the following qualities:

  • Adults relatively young in age

  • Only one area of spinal cord degeneration/injury

  • Symptoms that last in short durations

Many surgical treatments that address cervical spondylotic myelopathy involve spinal fusion, a process of fusing vertebrae together so they become a single bone. Fusion can limit the movement of degenerated vertebrae—  alleviating the associated pain. This process includes the use of a bone graft (either from the patient’s own body or from a donor) to fuse the bones and provide structural support.

Overall, there are three main approaches to surgically treating cervical myelopathy:

  • Anterior approach. The spine surgeon will operate on a patient’s neck from the front. The surgeon will either remove a damaged or bulging intervertebral disc, bone spurs, or a vertebra.

  • Posterior approach. Opposite to the anterior approach, the surgeon will make an incision at the back of the neck. A posterior approach prepares the area for laminectomy or laminoplasty to take place.

  • Combined approach. Patients who have an abnormal curvature in the cervical spine (kyphosis), severe osteoporosis, or multiple different areas of the spine that require treatment may require a combined surgical approach.

Choose Rothman Orthopaedic Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care

Whether your condition needs only non-operative treatment or spinal surgery in New York City, choosing the best orthopaedic provider is key. Since our start in 1970, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute has served as one of the top orthopaedic practices in the nation. Our spine specialists, in particular, have mastered the complexity of the spinal column and its many components that keep patients moving. If part of your spine is not functioning properly, we will get to the bottom of the issue and walk you through your treatment options.

For more information about cervical myelopathy treatment in NYC, or to schedule an appointment directly, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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