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Understanding Myelopathy

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So, your doctor has told you that the discomfort in your back, neck, arm or leg is caused by myelopathy. What can you do about it? There are many treatment options to manage symptoms associated with myelopathy.
One thing you should always do, is to call your Physical Therapist and schedule an appointment. New changes in the law allows patients access to physical therapy without a prescription. That’s great news for patients looking for health care solutions that minimize your exposure to opioids and other potentially harmful pain management treatments.
What is Myelopathy?
Myelopathy is a broad term and has many different causes. Myelopathy describes any neurologic deficit related to the spinal cord. They break it down further into 3 common categories:

Traumatic MyelopathyKnown as (acute) myelopathy or spinal cord injury. This type of myelopathy might occur in a car wreck or other traumatic event and requires immediate medical attention, usually at a hospital.

Inflammatory MyelopathyKnown as myelitis. This may be caused by diseases of the nervous system or other conditions that cause inflammation of nerve tissue. Some types of medication such as those used for chemotherapy can cause myelopathy as a side effect.

SpondylosisThis term refers to degenerative changes in the spine that happen with age, weight gain or arthritis. This type of myelopathy usually has a gradual onset over many weeks or months and is the kind most Physical Therapists treat on a daily basis.

Cervical Spondylotic MyelopathyThe most common form of myelopathy is cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). This is caused by degenerative changes in the neck which result in narrowing of the spinal canal, or stenosis, causing compression of the spinal cord. People with CSM often have symptoms in the neck, arms, hands or upper back.

What Type of Myelopathy do I Have?Myelopathy is usually first diagnosed during an examination in your doctor’s office. Next, your doctor may order tests to further determine what kind of myelopathy you have. Tests may include x-rays, MRI or CAT scan. Some cases of myelopathy may appear suddenly, others may develop slowly over weeks or months.

Will Physical Therapy Help?In cases where myelopathy is caused by degeneration in the spine, therapy can be very helpful. Degenerative changes that you doctor may discuss with you include bone spurs, bulging or herniated discs, stenosis or spondylosis to name a few. A licensed Physical Therapist will further examine you to determine how your pain behaves under certain conditions such as driving a car, bending or lifting. They will then work with you to plan how to minimize the effect of neuropathy on your daily activities.

In addition to causing pain, myelopathy can seriously limit your physical activity. People suffering from gradual onset myelopathy may find over time that they have stopped doing activities they enjoy. Physical Therapists are experts at helping patients control their symptoms and get back to normal using physical methods of symptom control (not medication) and rehabilitation.

When can I start Physical Therapy?As soon as you have been diagnosed with myelopathy, you should make an appointment to see a Physical Therapist. Management of myelopathy takes a multi-pronged approach that includes, medication, symptom management, Physical Therapy, and in some cases surgery. The good news is that, with the right care, most people can manage their condition and go back to the activities they enjoy.

Want to find out how Physical Therapy can help you manage your myelopathy? Schedule a consultation with a Therapist at our Madisonville or Hammond locations.

​Have Questions About Myelopathy?If you have question about how physical therapy can help you diagnose and choose a course of action for treating myelopathy, we invite you to stop by one of Jones Physical Therapy’s offices in Hammond LA or Madisonville LA and chat with one of our licensed Physical Therapists.

paul jones

Paul Jones

Jones Physical Therapy

"We Help People Recover From Injuries Quickly And Completely Without The Use Of Medication, Shots Or Surgery So They Can Live The Active, Pain-Free Lives They Want And Deserve."

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