Myelopathy is the loss of spinal cord function caused by degenerative changes to the spine or by trauma. It is often first detected as difficulty walking because of weakness or problems with balance and coordination. This process occurs more commonly in the elderly, who can have many reasons for having problems with walking and balance. Myelopathy may be caused by bone spurs or disc herniations in the cervical or thoracic spine that squeeze the spinal cord. Trauma or instability may also play a role in myelopathy. This compression can cause irreversible injury to the spinal cord with serious disability to the patient. Patients exhibiting signs of myelopathy often are considered urgent surgical candidates.