Myelopathy is an injury to the spinal cord due to severe compression that may result from trauma, congenital stenosis, degenerative disease, or disc herniation. The spinal cord is a group of nerves housed inside the spine that runs almost its entire length. When any portion of the spinal cord becomes compressed or constricted, the resulting symptoms are myelopathy. This condition is also known as Spinal Cord Compression.
Types of Myelopathy
Myelopathy can occur in any area of the spine and has a different name depending on where in the spine it evidences itself.
Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy
Cervical spondylotic myelopathy occurs in the neck and is the most common form of myelopathy. Neck pain is one of the symptoms of cervical myelopathy, but not all patients experience it.
Thoracic myelopathy occurs in the middle region of the spine. The spinal cord in this area typically gets compressed due to bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs, or spinal trauma.
Lumbar myelopathy is a rare condition because, in most people, the spinal cord ends in the top section of the lumbar spine. However, if the spinal cord is low-lying or tethered, it can be affected by lumbar myelopathy.
Myelopathy Versus Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy and myelopathy are often confused with each other since they both exhibit similar symptoms. However, there is a clear distinction between the two.
Radiculopathy occurs when a nerve or nerves along the spine become pinched. In radiculopathy, the source of the pain is at the root of the nerve where it connects to the spine. The pain however often spreads as the nerves send pain signals to other parts of the body. If you have a pinched nerve in your neck, you may also feel pain in your shoulders and down through your arms.
Myelopathy is the result of spinal cord compression. The difference is that myelopathy affects the entire spinal cord. In comparison, radiculopathy refers to compression on an individual nerve root. However, myelopathy may sometimes be accompanied by radiculopathy.