The spinal cord and the spine are important structures in the body. The is made up of twenty-four irregularly shaped bones called vertebrae that run down the back. In humans, the spine holds the body upright and protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a collection of nervous tissue that helps direct nerve impulses. It sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body, and it sends messages from the rest of the body back up to the brain. Without either of these structures, life would be very different.
Spinal Cord Compression: Introduction and Symptoms
Spinal cord compression is also called cervical spondylotic myelopathy. As humans age, the spine also ages. The bones wear down and begin to come together too closely. When this happens, they may begin to place pressure on the spinal cord. The progressive deterioration of the spine can lead to spinal cord compression. Most commonly, the deterioration occurs between the intervertebral disks, which is called spondylosis.
Cervical spondylotic myelopathy is accompanied by a few symptoms. One of the symptoms may be a pain in the back and neck as the spinal cord is compressed. One may also experience pain in the arms and neck. The pain experienced largely depends on where the spinal cord is being compressed. A person with spinal cord compression may notice that there is a deficiency in fine motor skills, balance, and coordination. These symptoms result from the reduction in the ability of the spinal cord to send messages to the body and brain.
Spinal Cord Compression: Causes and Treatment
The degeneration of disks can cause bone spurs to form. The bone spurs are formed to help reinforce the support lost as the disk deteriorates, but they can also narrow the spinal canal, compressing the spinal cord. A herniated disk can also cause spinal cord compression. When the disk herniates, it may squeeze into the spinal canal and push against the spinal cord. Of course, things like rheumatoid arthritis and injuries from work can also lead to cervical spondylotic myelopathy.
In some cases, treatment can be nonsurgical. A soft cervical collar can be worn to limit the movement of the neck, which may help decompress the spinal cord. Physical therapy can help by improving the strength of muscles near the spine and improving endurance so the pain is less noticeable. There are also many medications ranging from ibuprofen to narcotics that can help reduce pain and other symptoms that may arise from spinal cord compression.
In most cases, the spinal cord compression is too severe to be treated nonsurgically. Surgical procedures are often followed up with the previously described nonsurgical methods for at least a brief period. Regardless, there are many surgical options available, and the surgeon will create a plan after thoroughly assessing the patient’s needs and symptoms. Of course, surgical procedures are extremely risky, especially when involving the spine and spinal cord.
Spinal Cord Compression: Diagnosis and Doctors
The diagnosis of cervical spondylotic myelopathy will begin with a discussion of symptoms and medical history. After, the doctor will perform a physical examination focusing on the neck, spine, and shoulders. If the doctor finds it necessary, x-rays and/or MRIs may be ordered to further understand the patient’s symptoms. An x-ray will look at the alignment of the vertebrae in the affected area, and an MRI will show more accurately where the spinal cord is being compressed and if a disk is involved in the compression.
Really, before diagnosis and treatment can begin, a doctor must first be found. For spinal cord compression, one should look for someone who specializes in spine and neck health issues. Additionally, the doctor should be compassionate and respectful of the patient, never downplaying or invalidating the patient’s feelings. The doctor should also provide polite and prompt care so that the issue can be resolved as soon as possible. To find these traits, the internet is a great place to find reviews. Additional information can be obtained by asking friends or even a primary care doctor.
In Miami, the Miami Neck Specialists are able to provide this type of care. The focus of this practice is on neck pain and injury, so the physicians here are all extremely qualified to handle spinal cord compression problems. The practice is composed of pain management specialists and orthopedic spine surgeons, so a variety of treatments are available to patients, allowing them to best fulfill their needs.
All of the physicians at the practice have undergone extensive training in their areas of specialty, so a patient will have no need to worry about a doctor with insufficient experience handling the case. These physicians have also had extensive experience with patients, so they are able to use appropriate bedside manner. When looking for a physician to treat spinal cord compression, one should look for a physician who qualities like those of the Miami Neck Specialists.
Spinal Cord Compression: Conclusion
Spinal cord compressions are caused by some sort of malfunction in the spine, and they are usually accompanied by pain and deficits in motor skills. A physician can properly diagnose and treat this problem by using the proper techniques. Of course, the physician’s diagnosis and treatment are only as good as the physician. Due to this, it is extremely important to find a qualified, empathic doctor to handle one’s needs.