Treat joint conditions before they get to the ageing you (The Straits Times)

December 31, 2015

Dr Yue Wai Mun shared with the readers of The Straits Times on the importance of seeking early treatment for neck and spine conditions that may lead to impairments.

He recalled an elderly lady who came to him with early signs of cervical spondylotic myelopathy but did not seek treatment out of fear. It was ten years later when he met her again and saw that the cervical spondylotic myelopathy had left her wheelchair-bound and dependent on a domestic helper for daily needs.

This was a frustrating moment for him and he wished more patients would become more educated and informed on surgery treatment for cervical spondylotic myelopathy or other neck and spine conditions. With the advancement in medical technology, the risks involved in spine surgery is relatively low – less than 1% chance of major repercussion. The other less significant surgery risks involved would then have to be weighed against the risks from not undergoing spine surgery to treat the condition.

However, not all cases of cervical spondylotic myelopathy would require surgery for treatment. If discovered early or when the symptoms are still mild, the patient may only need to be regularly monitored and be on a regular but moderate exercise regime that avoids high-impact activities. Surgery is the only way to treat or manage the condition once the symptoms get worse.

The symptoms in the early stages of cervical spondylotic myelopathy often get mistaken as normal ageing. It is important that patients, and their family members, be on the lookout when they get more and more clumsy in performing fine hand movements (e.g. writing and buttoning shirt) and experience numbness and weakness of hands and feet, as the condition almost certainly will deteriorate further. The patient may also face immobility and inability to control urine and bowel movements at the worst state of untreated cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

Read the full article on Treat joint conditions before they get to the ageing you.