The Vault

The Wall Street Journal reports that spinal cord compression (SCC) is one of the most common spinal cord problems in America. The medical term for this injury is cervical spondolytic myelopathy. Spinal cord compression symptoms include neck stiffness, arm pain, and numbness and weakness in the hands and legs. These symptoms are all signs of degenerative changes in the upper spine as a result of everyday wear and tear. Changes over time can lead to the narrowing of the spinal cord which puts pressure on the spinal cord. When a person adds repetitive motion to activities that injure the spine, the compression can ultimately injure the cord, inhibit hand movements, and even lead to paralysis.

Spine Center of Texas has seen numerous cases of spinal cord compression. We have listed some of the things you need to know about the disease and the course of action you can take to treat it:

What causes SCC?

Tumors, trauma, herniated discs, and other conditions such as degenerative arthritis can lead to SCC. Genetics and aging is also strongly associated for degenerative arthritis in the neck and other parts of the body.

What kind of treatment can I undergo to cure SCC?

SCC is not a disease that comes in a single form, which is why not all patients receive the same treatment. When SCC is still mild, the doctor may recommend simple observation. Aggressive surgeries may be performed to treat severe cases. Some studies showed that two thirds of CSM patients improvd with surgery, while 15-30 percent of cases are not successful. Complication rates can be as high as 17 percent.

Are older people more prone to SCC?

SCC usually affects older people, because one of the underlying problems is degenerative arthritis.

What are the symptoms I should look out for?

Those in the early stages of spinal cord compression experience vague tingling in the arms or hands, while severe cases may be essentially quadriplegic (paralyzed in their arms and legs.) The most common patient symptoms include pain, numbness and/or weakness in the arm(s), difficulty walking due to fatigue and feeling off balance, and electric shock sensations down the back or arms with extreme neck movements. Severe symptoms can be seen through an MRI. A spine surgeon may be appropriate if SCC is confirmed.

What can I expect with Spinal Cord Suppression Surgery?

It all depends on the extent and severity of a person’s SCC. Spine Center of Texas encourages patients to discuss any reasonable expectations with their surgeon.

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