Myelopathy is the medical term for spinal cord compression in the neck (cervical) or chest region (thoracic) of the spine. Symptoms usually develop slowly over time, but rarely symptoms can progress suddenly. Symptoms of myelopathy can be very varied, and the extent of symptoms is not always related to the severity of spinal cord compression.
If a myelopathy is suspected then an MRI (magnetic resonance image) scan may be required to determine the extent and cause of any spinal cord compression.
Surgery is the only available treatment for myelopathy in a procedure known as ‘decompression surgery’. Myelopathy should not be confused with the similar sounding ‘myopathy’, which is a condition affecting the muscles. It is also distinct from radiculopathy which affects the nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord.