Neck Pain: What is Cervical Myelopathy?

What is cervical myelopathy and how is it treated? CU Medicine provider Dr. David Ou-Yang walks us through the condition known to cause neck pain and weakness.

Cervical myelopathy can be quite a pain in the neck. From abnormal sensations to weakness in the arms and legs, navigating chronic neck pain from cervical myelopathy can be difficult. Luckily there are many treatments that can help with the condition. CU Medicine provider David Ou-Yang, MD from CU Medicine Orthopedics walks us through the mechanics of the condition and how it’s treated:


What is Cervical Myelopathy?

Cervical myelopathy occurs when the spinal cord is compressed within the spinal canal in the cervical (neck) portion of the spine and begins to malfunction.

Possible Causes of Cervical Myelopathy

  • Disc degeneration with disc bulge
  • Joint arthritis
  • Malalignment or instability of the spinal segments
  • Disc herniation
  • Joint cysts

Symptoms Associated with Cervical Myelopathy

  • Abnormal sensations
  • Pain
  • Weakness in the upper and/or lower extremities

Frequently people complain about incoordination or clumsiness of the upper extremities. Other possible symptoms of cervical myelopathy are balance problems and difficulty walking. Cervical myelopathy can sometimes cause poor bladder or bowel control.

How is Cervical Myelopathy Diagnosed?

Cervical myelopathy is diagnosed by a provider who will look for signs consistent with the condition. The provider may also order imaging studies to look for spinal cord compression and the cause of cord compression. Imaging studies may include X-ray, MRI and possibly a CT scan of the neck.

How are Mild Cases of Cervical Myelopathy Treated?

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Non-narcotic oral pain medication

How are Moderate and Severe Cases of Myelopathy Treated?

  • Posterior and/or anterior surgery of the cervical spine
  • Fusion of the spine may be necessary

Whatever the severity of cervical myelopathy you may have, Dr. David Ou-Yang wants patients to know the condition is treatable and CU Medicine Orthopedic doctors are here to help.

TAGS: doctor, orthopedics

CATEGORIES: Health Education, Orthopedics

This post was originally posted on 08/25/2022