A common question from patients referred to a spine specialist about balance and coordination problems is “my neck isn’t hurting, why is it affecting my balance?”
This is a common question that we’ll address in this month’s newsletter. A common complaint may include the recent use of a cane or other assistive walking device. Other symptoms may include clumsiness with the hands, dropping of objects, abrupt changes in handwriting, or fine motor dysfunction. These all can be due to a condition called cervical myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy is defined as compression of the spinal cord resulting in various functional disturbances.
You may have received treatment already for your condition. You may have worked with a physical therapist for your balance or an occupational therapist for your hand dysfunction. The next question would be, “How is my spinal cord being compressed?” This answer can be determined in a thorough workup of your condition including plain film x-ray, CT scan, or MRI of the cervical spine.
This imaging may reveal:
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) due to bone spurring or other arthritic changes.
- Herniated discs compressing on the spinal cord resulting in spinal stenosis. The discs are special cushions located between the bones of your spine.
- Spinal stenosis due to a small spinal canal from birth.
It’s important to make sure imaging is reviewed with a spine specialist and a detailed physical exam is performed. To help determine the extent of dysfunction and formulate a proper care plan for your condition, contact and set up an appointment with one of our Spine Center specialists today.