With cervical myelopathy (CM) the spinal cord is being compressed by a narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is the opening where the spinal cord travels from the skull down to the lumbar spine. CM specifically refers to the location of this problem in the neck region.
Besides pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves, CM can also twist or distort the neural tissue. Loss of blood supply from tugging and pulling on the blood vessels can lead to further damage.
Change in the position of the spine can result in pinching of the ligament along the back of the spine when the head and neck are extended. Over time, this has the effect of causing microtrauma to the soft tissues. The condition can get worse and worse.
Surgery to take pressure off the spinal cord also involves lining the bones up and fusing them in a good position. This relieves the pain and stabilizes the neck. Hopefully, the patient also gets increased function with less risk of long-term problems. Left untreated, the condition can progress to the point of irreversible symptoms and even paralysis in some cases.