Munson Health
Cervical Myelopathy

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by Cresse M

(Myelopathy, Cervical)



Cervical myelopathy is caused by:
  • A slipped disk
  • Cervical disks that are worn, known as degeneration
  • Tumors inside the spinal cord or compressing on the spinal cord
  • Bone spurs
  • Dislocation or fracture of the neck
  • Traumatic injury to the cervical spine
  • Autoimmune disease, such as transverse myelitis, multiple sclerosis, or neuromyelitis optica

Risk Factors

Risk factors that increase your chance of developing cervical myelopathy include:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This may involve:
  • Treating the cause of the myelopathy
  • Improving functions that you have lost
  • Reducing or managing pain
  • Doing strengthening exercises
  • Teaching you ways to reduce injuries
  • Helping you learn ways to cope with the condition


If there is structural pressure on the spinal cord, you may need surgery right away. This is to attempt to avoid lasting injury. There are many different kinds of surgery and procedures to stabilize the neck, such as:
  • Diskectomy—a surgical procedure to remove part of an intervertebral disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root
  • Laminectomy—a surgical procedure to remove a portion of a vertebra, called the lamina
  • Fusion of the vertebrae
Cervical Fusion
Sagittal View of a Cervical Fusion
Screws and a plate prevent the vertebrae from putting pressure on the spinal cord.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Nonsurgical Approaches

Your doctor may recommend that you do:
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Other approaches, such as ultrasound therapy, heat therapy, or electrical stimulation
  • Plasmapheresis


Your doctor may prescribe:
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Rituximab—This is an antibody used to treat some autoimmune disorders.
Other medications that affect the immune system are also sometimes used.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Spinal Cord Injury Association



Canadian Spinal Research Organization

Health Canada



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Spondylolysis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 13, 2013. Accessed November 16, 2013.

Young WB. Clinical diagnosis of myelopathy. Sem Ultrasound, CT, MRI. 1994;15:250-254.

Young WF. Cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in older persons. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Sep 1;62(5):1064-1070. Available at: Accessed November 27, 2012.


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