What is cervical myelopathy?

Cervical Myelopathy
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Cervical myelopathy: Overview

Cervical myelopathy is a problem caused by pressure on your spinal cord. This pressure may come from a bone spur. Or it may come from a herniated disc. In some cases, aging makes the discs and ligaments around the spine thicker. This can also put pressure on the spinal cord.

Cervical myelopathy can cause different symptoms. It may cause numbness and pain. It may also cause weakness in the arms, hands, and legs. For some people, it's hard to walk. Others have neck pain or problems with urination and bowel movements.

Treatment depends on the cause and your symptoms. You may need regular checkups or you may need surgery to help take pressure off the nerve.

How can you care for yourself when you have cervical myelopathy?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Do exercises recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. Strong muscles can help you do everyday tasks.
  • If you have trouble using your hands, put Velcro or snaps on clothes. This can make your clothes easier to get on and off.
  • If you have trouble walking, you can make life easier and safer. Use rails and nonskid tape at home. Try a cane or walker to get around.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can slow bone healing. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Pace yourself. Everyday activities may take longer than before. Give yourself more time to get things done. This may lower your stress.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.