Cervical myelopathy is a condition that results from spinal degeneration and has deleterious effects on the spinal cord and nerves. The upper cervical spine is the top portion of the neck. The neck is made up of 7 segments, called cervical vertebrae. These seven bones of the neck provide a base of support for the weight of the head (7-10 pounds on average) as well as a wide range of movement. At the top of the neck a two ounce bone called the atlas supports the weight of the head on two joints. This region of the body is known as the cranio cervical junction (CCJ)and is the weakest area of the spine.
Because the CCJ is unstable it is susceptible to Injury. Once misaligned the muscles in the cervical spine become tight pulling normal posture out of balance and making the joints and discs of the neck susceptible to degenerative changes. Degenerative changes (also known as spinal arthritis, osteoarthritis, spinal degeneration, etc.) begin to develop. While many consider this process to be a normal process of aging, there is a wide range of effects across various age ranges. This indicates that although this problem gets worse over time, it is not necessarily a normal process of getting older.
Myelopathy is a term that describes spinal cord compression, irritation, or damage subsequent to spinal degeneration. Because the spinal vertebrae house the spinal cord, when they have degenerative changes they can impact the cord by irritation and mechanical traction. When this occurs there is an increased risk of cervical myelopathy.
In our Los Angeles based upper cervical chiropractic offices our doctors specialize in precisely correcting spinal misalignment that resulted from spinal trauma. Great lengths are taken by using advanced imaging in determining exactly how each patient has misaligned to ensure precision in the correction. By restoring normal motion to joints affected by spinal trauma the body can I prove function, reduce muscle tightness, improve posture and in many cases of cervical myelopathy decrease or eliminate symptomology.
Cervical myelopathy results from high impact acceleration deceleration injuries to the cervical spine.The cervical spine is capable of a wide range of movement and should maintain a free and active range of motion in normal circumstances. Whiplash type injuries to the neck are often the first domino in a cascade of events that cause cervical myelopathy. Whiplash type injuries cause damage to the soft tissue, ligaments and fascia of the neck that result in postural imbalance, loss of joint motion, and spinal cord irritation.
Whiplash type injuries to the cervical spine include:
* Car accidents
* sports injuries/concussion
* blows to the head
* slips and falls
These types of injuries damage the soft tissue in the neck leading to a cascade of neurological and biomechanical challenges that can slowly lead to CMS.
These injuries can disrupt the normal alignment of the neck causing wear and tear to develop over time. Abnormal alignment produces abnormal mechanics, and Wolf’s law states that bone tissue experiencing abnormal mechanical stress will remodel or degenerate in response to this stress. Over time, the progression of arthritis in the neck can protrude into the center of the spine (the spinal canal) irritating the spinal cord.
Degenerative disc disease is another process that serves as a risk factor for cervical myelopathy. This occurs when abnormal weight distribution of the neck leads to increased loading on the discs in between the segments of the neck. As these discs thin, arthritis develops and cervical myelopathy may occur over time.
Individuals who have experienced cervical spine trauma early in life may be at an increased risk for the development of cervical myelopathy later in life. If you experienced a significant sports injury (concussion, stinger, etc.) or car accident before the age of 25 it is important to have your cervical spine evaluated for any injury that may in time lead to the onset of cervical myelopathy.Why cervical myelopathy occurs?
Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a neck condition that develops when the spinal cord becomes compressed—or squeezed—due to the wear-and-tear changes that occur in the spine due to trauma and age. The condition commonly occurs in patients over the age of 50.
Cervical myelopathy symptoms
Because CSM develops slowly over time the symptoms often start slowly and ramp over time.
Patients with CSM may experience a host of the following symptoms:
* Tingling and/or numbness in the neck , shoulders, arms, or hands.
* Weakness in the hands, and arms that can lead to loss of grip strength and fine motor movement.
* Imbalance and other coordination problems. You may have trouble walking or you may fall down. With myelopathy, there is no sensation of spinning, or “vertigo.” Rather, your head and eyes feel steady, but your body feels unable to follow through with what you are trying to do.
* Difficulty with writing or performing task that requires fine movement of the hands.
* Pain,stiffness, or aches in the neck
The chiropractic profession has a multitude of techniques. The best technique for cervical myelopathy are the upper cervical techniques. These techniques focus ALL of their attention on the upper cervical spine. They do not use twisting popping or pulling and use precise advanced imaging to ascertain exactly how your cervical joints have misaligned.
In our Los Angeles based upper cervical health care offices we use the Blair Upper Cervical Technique. This technique is geared at precisely correcting misalignments in the neck that have been found on advanced imaging. The hallmarks of Blair upper cervical are precision, gentle, and effective. The goal of the Blair technique is to restore normal joint motion in the upper cervical spine which has profound effects on the bodies neurophysiology.
While cervical myelopathy is usually the result of long standing degenerative changes that have occurred following neck trauma, the Blair technique often affords these individuals much needed relief. While the Blair technique is not a cure all, removing mechanical instructions to nervous system function can allow the body to function better leading to better health outcomes for those undergoing care.
While there are many health care options near you to treat your cervical myelopathy, the Blair technique is natural, precise, gentle , and has been effective five in giving people with a variety of pain conditions including cervical myelopathy relief. Our offices in the Los Angeles area offer a FREE consultation where the doctor will be able to determine if they can help. We have to offices one on Korea town and the other in the South Bay, Carson.
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