These two conditions are remarkably similar but have some key differences. While they both originate in the upper vertebrae, they affect those who experience them in different ways.
Both conditions are the result of compression. In the case of cervical myelopathy, loss of function can be experienced in the arms and legs and even implicate bladder and bowel function. In the case of this condition, the spinal cord (not the nerve root) is affected.
In the case of cervical radiculopathy (commonly known as a pinched nerve), a nerve is irritated by similar compression, but at the point at which the nerve branches out from the spinal cord. The effect is shoulder pain which can radiate down the arm to the hand. This condition can also result from an injury in the region of the affected nerve.
Diagnosis and treatment.
X-rays and MRIs are commonly used to identify these two conditions of the cervical spine and associated nerves. Additional diagnostic tools include selective anesthetic injection, which involves the use of a steroid, guided by radiographic imaging.
Finally, electromyogram/nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) may be deployed to gauge the response of nerves and muscles in the arms.
A general medical history will be requested, to evaluate the possibility of cervical radiculopathy or cervical myelopathy.
Conservative therapies are usually indicated for both these conditions. Physical therapy and non-steroidal medications may be prescribed, depending on your historic tolerance to medications and ability to pursue a course of physical therapy, due to overall health and fitness.
Finally, surgery may be prescribed as a means of relieving pressure on the spinal cord or nerves (depending on which condition is present). The purpose of surgery is to relieve pressure causing pain. Fusion of vertebrae may also be indicated, depended on the nature of the symptoms and the progression of the condition.
Spine Care in NJ.
Led by the orthopedic and neurologic specialist, Dr. Michael Gerling, the team at Spine Care NYC is specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from all conditions affecting the spine.
We practice the full spectrum of care for spinal ailments, with the goal of relieving pain and restoring patients to an enhanced quality of life. While we focus on conservative and minimally-invasive treatments, we also perform all types of spine surgery, when required.
Surgery is only pursued after all other options have been attempted. We’re also focused on traditional avenues of orthopedic therapy but will add alternative treatments when they’re the right fit for the patient and the condition in play.
At Spine Consult NJ, we treat every patient as a unique individual with singular needs. From intake and diagnosis, through therapy, to recovery, we’re the team that works with you to return you to normal function as quickly as possible.
If you suspect you’re suffering cervical radiculopathy or cervical myelopathy, please contact us for a consultation.