CSM is the most common form of spinal cord impairment. It is a progressive condition that slowly compresses the spinal cord, resulting in the gradual onset of symptoms, including spasticity and disturbances in walking patterns (gait). The chronic compression develops from narrowing of the spinal canal due to several different spinal malformations or genetic dispositions. Typically, CSM develops in older individuals.
Little is know regarding the pathology of CSM. Preliminary evidence suggests that the slow compression causes damage in similar ways that traumatic SCI does; however not as intense and more prolonged.
Incidence and prevalence
The exact incidence and prevalence of CSM remains unknown. However, since CSM is a disease that is caused by degeneration of the spinal structures, the largest group affected by this disease is the elderly. Recent studies suggest that CSM is one of the most common spinal cord disorders in the older population.
What Can be Done?
If symptoms progress, doctors can surgically relieve the chronic compression to prevent further damage. However, the damage already sustained is often not reversible and patients are left with permanent gait deficits. Rehabilitation can recovery some function following surgery. Currently, the are no clinically approved drugs to be used in combination with the surgical management of CSM but the Fehlings team is involved with a clinical trial for Riluzole to treat this disease.