Sometimes Dr. Michael Kaiser’s job is a real pain in the neck.
This is because Dr. Kaiser, Associate Director of The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, is an expert in the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy, a common degenerative disorder that can affect the spinal canal in the neck.
Over time, as a result of the normal aging process, changes take place that can narrow the spinal canal of the neck.
Narrowing might be the result of an outgrowth of bone, commonly referred to as a bone spur, that takes up room in the spinal canal. Or, the intervertebral discs might bulge outward from their usual location. Ligaments in the spine can also thicken and take up extra room.
The end result of all these arthritic changes is less room in the spinal canal, that can sometimes lead to pressure on the spinal cord or nerves of the spine.
These degenerative changes do not have to cause neck pain. When the spinal cord is squeezed a syndrome known as cervical spondylotic myelopathy can result. In fact these normal degenerative changes are the most common reason for spinal cords not working properly. Cervical spondylotic myelopathy can cause numbness of the hands, loss of hand strength and coordination, weakness of the arms, leg stiffness, loss of balance, and even urinary and bowel difficulties. It can certainly impact quality of life.
As a leading expert in this area, Dr. Kaiser has developed nationally recognized guidelines for treating cervical spondylotic myelopathy and is heavily involved in teaching cervical spinal management to students, residents, and fellow surgeons. He has recently been asked to be editor of an upcoming textbook describing the treatment approaches regarding cervical spondylotic myelopathy and radiculopathy.
He was on hand at the annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) this fall, directing a practical course in treatment approaches called “Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy and Radiculopathy: Treatment Approaches and Options.”
The workshop covered all aspects of cervical degenerative disorders, from symptoms and diagnosis to surgical techniques. Attendees learned through practical hands-on exercises as well as lectures and case presentations, and came away with a better understanding of how to use state-of-the-art surgical techniques to help their patients.