Explore Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Also known as Spinal Cord Compression, Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy (CSM) is one of the most common neck problems that can occur with age. As a person ages, the normal wear-and-tear that affects their spine can narrow the spinal canal, which compresses the spinal cord, causing pain and discomfort. Herniated disks and bone spurs are two causes of CSM.

Who does CSM affect?

CSM typically affects people over the age of 50, but CSM can occur in younger patients if there was a spinal cord injury earlier in life.


Symptoms of CSM include:

  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Difficulty walking or keeping your balance
  • Pain that radiates down your arms, possibly to your fingers
  • A stiff, painful neck


To diagnose CSM, your doctor will take your medical history and perform a thorough physical evaluation. During the evaluation, your doctor is looking for numbness, weakness, atrophy and abnormal reflexes. Your doctor may also have you get an x-ray, MRI scan or myelogram (a specialized type of CT scan).


Nonsurgical treatment

There are a few nonsurgical treatment options for CSM, including:

  • Soft collars: These help the neck muscles rest and can decrease the pinching of nerve roots. But soft collars should not be worn for long periods of time because they can decrease muscle strength.
  • Physical therapy: By improving neck strength and flexibility, can decrease pain and discomfort.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Taking a medication like aspirin or ibuprofen can reduce swelling and discomfort.

Surgical treatment

Surgery to treat CSM is used to open the space for the spinal cord. There are different surgical options depending on factors like the severity of your CSM and its location on your spinal cord.