Cervical spondylotic myelopathy is the most common cause of spinal cord problems in people age 55 and older. With aging, degenerative changes in the cervical spine can cause compression of the spinal cord. Symptoms often develop slowly and without a known cause. In other words, there's no known trauma or injury. Patients report neck stiffness and pain, arm pain, numbness and weakness in the hands. Sometimes weakness of the legs and feet is also a problem.
An MRI is needed to diagnose the problem. The image shows narrowing of the spinal canal caused by bone spurs, herniated discs, and thickening of the spinal ligaments. The best treatment for this condition is still highly debated. Surgery to decompress the spinal cord and stabilize the spine is advised for some patients.