If you gave the MVP award to a part of your body, what would it be? Would you choose your heart or your brain? Your eyes or your limbs? Would you consider nominating your spinal cord as the MVP? The spinal cord is an extremely crucial part of our body that often gets overlooked. The spinal cord is made up of a group of nerves and connects the brain to the peripheral nervous system. It begins at the base of the skull and extends 17-18 inches down the spine to the lumbar vertebrae. Myelopathy is diagnosed when the spinal cord is damaged, leaving it unable to do its job. Without a healthy spinal cord, your brain and body cannot communicate and therefore, cannot function properly. Those who experience damage in their spinal cord may have difficulty with motor function and sensory abilities that can be debilitating and life-threatening.
Causes of Myelopathy
The most common cause of myelopathy is pressure on the spinal cord as a result of bone spurs, tumors or fractures. A traumatic injury caused by a motor vehicle accident or hard fall may also damage the spine. Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, or degenerative changes in the spine such as herniations, spinal stenosis, or disc protrusions are also common, especially in adults over the age of 55. There are some risk factors to consider that make you more susceptible to myelopathy. These include smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, lack of exercise, improperly moving heavy objects, participation in intense sports like football or gymnastics, and repetitive strenuous activity.
Symptoms of Myelopathy
If you notice a pain, numbness, or tingling in your arms or legs, have trouble walking or balancing, experience muscle weakness or feel that your limbs are heavy and fatigued, you may be showing signs of myelopathy. Other symptoms include difficulty writing, issues with hand-eye coordination, irregular movements, or problems turning or bending your head and neck. With myelopathy, symptoms will increase and become more severe over time. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to contact a spine specialist as soon as possible.
In order to treat myelopathy properly, the cause must be identified. MRI scans are typically done in order to get a clear picture of the spine. Some cases require blood tests or an analysis of the spinal fluid. Once the cause and location of myelopathy are identified, a treatment plan will be determined. If nerve bundles within the spinal cord are compressed, surgery is typically necessary. At NewSouth NeuroSpine, each physician on our staff is highly trained to identify and diagnose the source of myelopathy. We understand that surgery is not always the best option and we will do everything in our power to heal your spinal pain. If surgery is necessary, our skilled surgeons can successfully treat you. Your spinal cord may very well be your most valuable player, so don’t wait any longer to address myelopathy.
If you are looking for a Mississippi spine center, look no further than NewSouth NeuroSpine. Let us help you manage your pain and work to eliminate it altogether. Schedule an appointment with us today.