Myelopathy is a generally progressive condition that develops slowly, and is most commonly caused by spinal stenosis, which is a progressive narrowing of the spinal canal. Symptoms may not progress for years, and then difficulties with coordination may suddenly increase. Often it is the arm pain that prompts someone with this condition to seek medical treatment, and then the myelopathy is discovered through medical history and physical exam.

Myelopathy affects the nerve tracts that run inside the spinal cord and deficits in these long tracts can be picked up on physical exam.

Unfortunately, most conservative treatments are unlikely to be of much benefit and the symptoms rarely improve without surgery to decompress the affected area.