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Spinal Cord Compression Treatment: Demystified

The gradual or sudden onset of pain affecting the spine, with numbness, tingling or weakness affecting the arms and or legs may be a symptom of compression of your spinal cord.

Spinal cord compression needs to be diagnosed and treated urgently. The treatment depends upon the cause of the compression. In this article, we’ll take a look at the options.

Causes of Spinal Compression

There is no exclusive cause of spinal cord compression. Instead, any condition that puts pressure on the spinal cord can cause it. Spinal cord compression treatment can range from relatively gentle supportive methods to surgery, but is very dependent on the cause.

Degenerative changes or “wear and tear” of the spine is one of the most common causes of spinal cord compression in people over the age of 50. This most commonly affects the neck and can cause clumsiness of the hands and unsteadiness when walking.

Other causes that can occur at any age include:

  • Infection
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spinal injury / trauma
  • Spinal tumours
  • Bleeding

Exploring Treatment Options

Diagnosis at an early stage is vitally important to prevent permanent loss of function. Spinal cord compression diagnosis and treatment should begin as soon as possible. This is done to reduce the possibility of the condition causing permanent damage to your spinal cord. The treatment options are based on the initial cause Common treatment options for degenerative causes include:


Pain is a major symptom of spinal cord compression and you might be prescribed painkillers by your doctor to help manage it. Based on a specialists’ recommendations, you may need to try various dosages to find the strength that works for your symptoms, and you may need to take ‘top-up’ painkillers if you still experience pain when performing certain functions.

It’s important to note that painkillers help with pain management rather than treat the condition that caused the compression.


Patients with early signs of cord compression due to degenerative changes may be monitored on a regular basis. This is to ensure that the symptoms do not deteriorate. This also allows the specialist to discuss the balance of risks between conservative management and surgery.


Various surgeries are used as spinal cord compression treatment. For example, if your spine is weak, a surgeon may strengthen it by inserting steel rods. If you have a tumour or a bone is pressing on your spinal cord, a surgeon may remove the tumour or bone.

If you're experiencing any worrying symptoms, complete a Contact Us Form, call 0203 929 0801 or email Schoen Clinic London offers specialised treatments for orthopaedic and spinal conditions with minimal waiting times for surgery and initial consultations in as little as 24 hours.

*This piece was kindly reviewed by Mr David Cumming, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon.