What Is Myelopathy? 


Our spinal cord is the most important pathway for information traveling from the brain to the peripheral nervous system. Myelopathy is the term used to describe any neurologic symptoms that are related to the spinal cord due to bone spurs, spinal stenosis, and disc herniation. It is a very severe condition and can lead to major nerve damage which can cause paralysis or even death. 


Causes Of Myelopathy 

Myelopathy can be caused by anything that can injure or compress the spinal cord. It can happen due to spinal stenosis, disc herniation, bone spurs, or even trauma to the spinal cord. If you have pain, edema, or other discomforts in your back, you should visit an affordable health clinic in your area and ensure proper treatment for the same. 


Symptoms of Myelopathy 

The condition can affect one’s walking style and balance, fine motor skills like grip strength, bladder function, dexterity, and bowel function. Myelopathy can impinge nerve roots and can lead to radiculopathy to cause weakness, pain, and sensory changes in extremities. Positional sense of arms and legs can be affected making it difficult to understand where you are placing your feet while walking. 


Other Symptoms: 

  • As per the experts in low income clinics, there can be noticeable changes in handwriting. 
  • You may feel difficulty in walking and can walk differently and can stumble or fall frequently. 
  • Changes in bowel or bladder function and you may lose a sense of need to urinate or may be unable to hold your bladder. 
  • Inability to hold items properly and may drop things frequently. In addition, you can experience difficulty performing fine motor tasks like clasping jewelry, buttoning shirts, or even typing. 


These symptoms are important and need immediate medical evaluation. 


Diagnosing Myelopathy 

From the initial consultation, a thorough medical history will be obtained. The medical professional will look for symptoms like dexterity or difficulty with balance, which can indicate myelopathy. In addition, patients undergo a complete physical examination that will evaluate for abnormal findings like hyperreflexia which can increase the chances of having myelopathy. Further imaging and tests will be ordered if any abnormalities are noted by the patient or found on the exam. These tests include CT scans, x-rays, MRI scans, myelogram, and EMG. 


Treating Myelopathy 

In most cases of myelopathy, surgical intervention will be needed. The surgical plan will be specific to the patient and this will be based on the spinal needs of the patient. All surgical procedures aim to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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