Nonsurgical treatment options for myelopathy

Upon diagnosis of myelopathy, which is a term for symptoms related to compression of the central spinal cord, most doctors will recommend a patient thoroughly explore nonsurgical treatment options before surgery is considered. These conservative therapies can help minimize pain, discomfort and other symptoms, potentially helping to return to normal activity and avoid the need for surgery.

The most common nonsurgical treatments for myelopathy

Medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter options, are a common nonsurgical choice to help patients manage their myelopathy-related pain. Steroid injections, in which medications such as cortisone are inserted directly into the epidural space of the spine, may also be attempted on a limited basis. However, while medication is commonly associated with spine conditions such as myelopathy, there are other conservative treatment options that are critical for helping to improve range of motion and help the long-term health of the spine:

  • Physical therapy, which can help strengthen the muscles around the spine
  • Lifestyle changes which can help patients avoid painful motions and postures and eliminate unhealthy activities like smoking or poor nutrition
  • Soft collars, which can help limit motion and protect the muscles in the neck (for patients whose myelopathy has developed in the cervical, or upper, portion of their spine)
  • Therapeutic massage to relax tense muscles and connective tissue

When surgery becomes necessary

Although these nonsurgical methods may be able to help provide temporary symptom relief, they aren’t designed to address the underlying cause of the symptoms. For moderate to severe myelopathy, surgery may eventually be necessary for lasting relief. Myelopathy surgeries are intended to relieve the pressure being placed on the spinal cord by removing the displaced spinal anatomy, such as herniated disc material or a bone spur. If several weeks of nonsurgical treatment don’t provide the relief necessary for a good quality of life, patients may wish to meet with an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon to discuss their options for surgical decompression.

If you are being recommended to undergo spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures. We are the leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief since 2005.

We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.