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Cervical Myelopathy: Care Instructions

The spine

Your Care Instructions

Cervical myelopathy is a problem caused by pressure on your spinal cord. This pressure may come from a bone spur. Or it may come from a herniated disc. In some cases, aging makes the discs and ligaments around the spine thicker. This can also put pressure on the spinal cord.

Cervical myelopathy can cause different symptoms. It may cause numbness and pain. It may also cause weakness in the arms, hands, and legs. For some people, it's hard to walk. Others have neck pain or problems with urination and bowel movements.

Treatment depends on the cause and your symptoms. You may need regular checkups or you may need surgery to help take pressure off the nerve.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Do exercises recommended by your doctor or physiotherapist. Strong muscles can help you do everyday tasks.
  • If you have trouble using your hands, put Velcro or snaps on clothes. This can make your clothes easier to get on and off.
  • If you have trouble walking, you can make life easier and safer. Use rails and non-skid tape at home. Try a cane or walker to get around.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can slow bone healing. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Pace yourself. Everyday activities may take longer than before. Give yourself more time to get things done. This may lower your stress.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are unable to move an arm or a leg at all.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms in your arms, legs, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Weakness.
    • Pain.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.