Myelopathy is a condition well known to Dr. RaKerry (Ra’Kerry) Rahman, a clinical faculty member at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine. RaKerry Rahman, MD, also practices as a cervical spine and scoliosis specialist at the prestigious Springfield Clinic.
Also known as “spinal cord compression,” myelopathy is a frequent factor in cervical or neck pain in people 55 and older. The disorder includes such conditions as transverse syndrome, central cord syndrome, and motor system syndrome. Its pain can involve spinal nerves or supportive tissue, in addition to problems with the vertebrae or the facet joints that hold them together.
Myelopathy is often associated with the accumulated stresses of aging. As the spine grows older, its discs dry up or decalcify, leading to a reduction in the space between the facet joints. This degeneration places added pressure on the spine and pushes against the nerve roots and the spinal cord.
Trauma, such as automobile accidents, sports injuries, or falls, also can contribute to myelopathy. In addition to causing fractures and dislocated joints, trauma often damages the tissues that keep the spine in proper position.
Inflammatory illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may result in myelopathy in the upper neck. Infections, tumors, and birth defects are less common contributors.