If you received a lumbar myelopathy diagnosis, you may be wondering what you can do to help relieve the pain and other symptoms that you’re experiencing. Finding the right lumbar myelopathy treatment in NJ may be easier than you think!
What is lumbar myelopathy?
Myelopathy is not a single disease or condition but rather any neurological symptoms that are related to the spinal cord. It occurs as a result of pressure to the spinal cord from injuries and conditions such as a herniated intervertebral disc, spinal stenosis, bone spurs or vertebral fractures in the lumbar (lower back) region of your spine.
The symptoms of lumbar myelopathy vary but can include:
- Loss of fine motor skills and dexterity
- Loss of balance
- A change in your gait
- Difficulty using your arms and hands
- Loss or changes in your bowel or bladder control
Diagnosing lumbar myelopathy
The diagnosis of lumbar myelopathy is reached through a number of assessments and tests. If you suspect you may be suffering from lumbar myelopathy, a great place to start is with your physician, neurologist or spinal surgeon.
A physical exam is the first place your provider will start. A thorough history will be taken, in addition to a neurological exam. This will help your doctor determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing might be related to compression of your spinal cord in your lumbar region.
Your doctor may refer you for X-rays so they can better see the bones of your spine. X-rays are excellent for revealing vertebral fractures or other bone abnormalities.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can help to give a clear picture of your spinal canal. This is particularly useful for looking for spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or soft tissue problems such as tumors or growths within the spinal canal.
Treatment options for lumbar myelopathy
Despite its myriad of debilitating symptoms, lumbar myelopathy treatment in NJ is available. The methods of treatment depend on the root cause of the myelopathy in the first place. Following are some of the most successfully used treatments – both surgical and non-surgical – for the causes and subsequent symptoms of lumbar myelopathy.
Bracing can be used temporarily to help provide support to the portion of your spine that is experiencing the compression. It does not address the underlying reasons for the compression but can afford you some relief.
Corticosteroid injections can be used to help reduce swelling and inflammation in areas where soft tissues or irritation are contributing to the compression of nerves in your lumbar region. As with bracing, injections are not a long-term lumbar myelopathy treatment but can help to improve your comfort level while other treatment options are explored.
Narcotic pain medications are rarely used to treat the symptoms of lumbar myelopathy. They don’t often provide adequate relief and can be addictive, making them a less-than-optimal choice.
Other medications that address nerve function, such as gabapentin, may be used short-term to help alleviate some of the discomfort created by the impingement of nerves while you and your doctor decide on the best lumbar myelopathy treatment NJ.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
If your lumbar myelopathy is being caused by a ruptured lumbar disc, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) may be the best choice for treatment. This procedure involves your surgeon creating a small incision in your abdomen. Specialized instruments are passed through this small opening. The damaged disc is removed and then, to stabilize the spine around the area of the removed disc, a fusion is performed.
Fusion involves the use of bone grafts, allografts, synthetic mesh and in some cases, instrumentation such as plates, rods and screws, to build a “bridge” between the vertebrae on either side of the disc space. This provides stability and protection to the spine in the surgically altered area.
Each vertebra in your spine has a portion in the rear part of the bone known as the lamina. When there is a narrowing of the spinal canal through a vertebra or multiple vertebrae, this portion of the vertebrae can be removed to allow freedom of movement for the spinal cord and nerves.
Some of the most common questions regarding lumbar myelopathy treatment in New Jersey are outlined below.
Will lumbar myelopathy get better on its own?
No, in the majority of cases, lumbar myelopathy gradually worsens, with the symptoms becoming more abundant and debilitating as time goes by.
Is surgery the best option for my lumbar myelopathy?
The decision for undergoing surgery lies with you and your doctor. Depending on the cause of your myelopathy and its advancement, one surgery may be more desirable than another to bring you relief.
Is lumbar myelopathy dangerous?
Lumbar myelopathy can become life-threatening if it is allowed to progress. This is why it’s important that you see a doctor immediately if you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms.
How long does it take to recover from lumbar myelopathy surgery?
Recovery periods for spine surgery vary; depending on the type of surgery you need and the severity of your myelopathy, your doctor can give you a general idea of when you can expect to be fully recovered from surgery.
Are there surgeons in New Jersey or the Tristate area that treat lumbar myelopathy?
Luckily, there are many skilled surgeons in New Jersey and surrounding areas that are qualified and experienced to perform various types of surgery for lumbar myelopathy.
If you suspect you may be suffering from the symptoms of lumbar myelopathy, it’s important you see your doctor as soon as possible. You owe it to yourself to seek the best treatment available for your discomfort and pain.