Cervical spinal degeneration and multiple sclerosis

Takeaway

  • Cervical spinal degenerative disease (SDD) is prevalent in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) but can be incorrectly attributed to the underlying MS. A higher degree of clinical suspicion in people with MS is needed to correctly diagnose and treat cervical SDD.

Why this matters

  • Cervical SDD shares clinical features with MS and may on rare occasion be a presenting symptom. Due to the overlapping nature of the conditions, there is a risk of “diagnostic overlapping”, wherein symptoms of newly-onset cervical SDD are attributed to the underlying MS.

  • It is possible that people with progressive MS are predisposed to developing stenotic SDD, but the incidence in this population is unknown. Symptoms of spinal stenosis are treatable through decompressive surgery, so it is important to be aware of any increased prevalence.