Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

We have all heard of those diseases that occur with age, well this is one of them. Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy also known as spinal cord compression is a condition that normally affects older people. It is a very common neck condition that results from degenerative changes in the cervical spine that subsequently lead to spinal cord compression. It is prevalent to persons aged 55 years or more.


Cervical disc degeneration

This condition is basically a wear and tear of the discs and facet joints of the neck. The more we get older, the more the extent of the degeneration. Think of it this way; the discs in the vertebrae wear out and results to rough portions of the bone. Over time more areas of the bone thin out. This happens to everyone and for most people; this degeneration does not bring about any complications.

For others however, the degeneration irritates the surrounding nerves and muscles resulting in discomfort, otherwise known as cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Generally, the age at which this condition affects a person depends on their extent of congenital spinal canal narrowing.

Inflammatory diseases

CSM may also be brought about by a form of arthritis that destroys neck joints causing chronic stiffness and soreness of the upper neck.

Mutilation of the neck

Given that the neck supports the head, it is highly susceptible to injury. Any form of force inflicted on it may lead to a mild form of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy caused by dislocation or damage of soft tissues and muscles along the spinal cord.


Some of the symptoms and signs associated with CSM include:

  1. Hand numbness and clumsiness along with some weakness in the arm and hands.
  2. Loss of gait( walking awkwardly in a robot-like manner).
  3. Lack of stability or loss of balance affecting the legs.
  4. Clumsiness of the hands; dropping things, inability to feed oneself etc.
  5. Neck pain that may extend to the shoulders, arms, and hands. The pain is made worse by movement and may flare up from time to time.


The patient may be subjected to a radiologic imaging - an MRI for instance of the cervical spine to confirm the extent of the compression and or damage.

A surgical procedure may be recommended after the diagnosis to remove the parts of the bone that are compressing the cord, thereby open up space for the spinal cord. An anterior or posterior cervical approach may be used.

There is also the non-surgical approach comprising of:


There isn't really a way in which we can prevent ourselves from aging but perhaps we may slow the process down.

Regular exercise will ensure our joints have enough lubricant to avoid fast degeneration. A good posture, whether in the office or at home will guarantee that there is no tension on the neck or any part of the spinal cord. Yoga is a good way to practice this. Furthermore, ensure that the pillow used is compact enough.