OPLL is a calcification of the soft tissues that connect the spinal bones which results in a narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the cervical spinal cord. The cause of OPLL is unclear at this point, but we know people of Asian heritage especially Japanese have a higher likelihood of developing OPLL. We also know more men seem to be affected than women and there is a higher correlation to people with diabetes.
Most patients with OPLL are asymptomatic with no symptoms at all, but others may experience mild pain and numbness in the arms and/or legs to complete numbness in the extremities. The symptoms are similar to those of cervical cord compression.
Treatment of OPLL
Conservative treatment like NSAIDS, activity modification and exercises may help relieve the arm pain caused by OPLL. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, spine surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and prevent future damage and loss of neurological function. Your Emory Spine Center physician will discuss the treatment options with you to determine the best plan of care.