What Is a Myelopathy?

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By james
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Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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A group of nerves running inside the spine along nearly its entire length make up the spinal cord. As a part of the central nervous system, the spine has a crucial role to play in relaying messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Compression of the spinal cord can damage it. The resulting symptoms are known collectively as myelopathy.

Myelopathy is sometimes confused with other conditions. For example, radiculopathy can cause similar symptoms. However, while myelopathy results from compression of the spinal cord itself, radiculopathy is caused by compression of the nerve roots that extend out from it. Because of the similar-sounding names, people may also confuse myopathy with myelopathy. However, myopathy is a completely unrelated muscular disorder.

1. Types

The spine has three levels. The cervical spine is located in the neck, the lumbar spine is located in the lower back, and the thoracic spine is the level between them in the area of the trunk. The level where the cord compression occurs determines the type of myelopathy.

Myelopathy can also be chronic or acute in nature. Chronic myelopathy develops over time, usually due to degenerative processes associated with aging. Acute myelopathy occurs suddenly.

Myelopathy

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