Lumbar myelopathy

Lumbar myelopathy

Lumbar myelopathy refers to any condition of the spinal cord in the lumbar portion of the spine. The lumbar spine is the low back. In this section we will exclusively talk about myelopathy due to a lumbar intervertebral disc disorder, however some other examples of myelopathy may include:

  • Carcinomatous myelopathy (cancer)
  • Compressive myelopathy (masses, haemotomas, or stenosis)
  • Radiation myelopathy (x-rays and radiation)

It should be noted that the spinal cord ends very high in the lumbar spine, in most cases in the middle of the first lumbar vertebra (L1) or at the L1-2 intervertebral disc. Therefore if a disc herniation or protrusion is going to cause lumbar myelopathy by compressing the spinal cord it can only happen at the L1-L2 intervertebral disc. This is rare, however for completeness we have included here. Herniations that occur at L2-L3 through to L5-S1 can cause radiculopathy (one nerve root compressed) or cauda equina syndrome (many nerve roots compressed).

Symptoms of lumbar myelopathy

Lumbar myelopathy from intervertebral compression behaves much like a low thoracic disc causing myelopathy. Back pain can be experienced but in many cases its not. If it does it is likely to occur at the level of the disc. Compression of the spinal cord can affect muscle strength, sensation and the function of the bowel and bladder.

Treatment of lumbar myelopathy

If one of our chiropractors or physiotherapists at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) suspects a lumbar disc causing myelopathy we will refer you for prompt medical investigation along with MRI and CT scans in necessary. Specialist evaluation is needed in most cases. You are our priority at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C), we offer evidence based treatments, expert diagnosis and specialist non-surgical spinal treatments in the scope of chiropractic and physiotherapy.

Other causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.