Key Facts about Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM)

In Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), a spinal cord injury (SCI) happens in slow motion.
DCM is the commonest cause of SCI globally.
It is caused by degeneration of the spine in the neck, compressing and injuring the spinal cord. 
DCM affects 2% of adults globally. As our population ages, incidence is rising.
Whereas acute traumatic SCI is well recognised, public awareness of DCM is low, including among doctors. This is despite being over 500 times more common [1].
People with DCM often experience long delays in diagnosis. These delays increase their risk of developing life-long disabilities and poor quality of life. 
DCM causes a varied and whole-body experience. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, loss of dexterity, walking and balance difficulties, reduced control of bladder and bowels, and, in severe cases, partial or total paralysis.
Surgery is the mainstay of treatment, aiming to stop further deterioration and allow recovery. Unfortunately, today, recovery is rarely complete. If diagnosed early, surgery can be more effective. 
DCM has been known by many other names, including cervical stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck), and cervical spondylotic myelopathy (caused by wear-and-tear arthritic changes in the neck).
The economic burden of DCM worldwide has not yet been determined. Recent studies [2] show that over the last 25 years, DCM has received less than 2% of the funding of traumatic SCI.
Progress is urgently required.
Dr Mark Kotter and Dr Benjamin Davies, world-leading researchers into the causes and treatments of Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), answer frequently asked questions from people affected by myelopathy.