Cervical Myelopathy is categorized as direct compression and damage to the spinal cord as it passes through the cervical spine. Interestingly, although the spinal cord carries all sensory and pain fibers of the body it has not pain receptors itself so the resulting neurologic damage is without pain. Early symptoms include loss of balance and loss of fine motor skill in the hands such as typing, writing, and buttoning. At each level of the cervical spine the spine nerve roots exit carrying the motor and sensory function to the chest, shoulder, arms and hands. If the exiting spinal roots are also compressed this causes radicular symptoms and these patients are referred to as having cervical myelo-radiculopathy. As the normal surrounding spinal fluid is absent in the cervical myelopathy region, an injury can cause an abrupt spinal cord injury.
With the interruption of the motor and sensory nervous pathway patients can experience motor function loss in the hands and then eventually legs. The disruption of these signals can be caused by a variety of factors including, spinal injury, degenerative disc conditions, spinal stenosis, inflammation, tumors or autoimmune diseases. Each of these conditions can cause increased pressure and irritation to the cervical spinal cord and spinal nerves. Over time, this pressure may begin to impair the normal functions of these nerves and cause the symptoms related to Cervical Myelopathy.
Symptoms of Cervical Myelopathy can include:
- Loss of motor functions
- Loss of neurological functions
- Weakness in extremities
- Respiratory difficulties