What is cervical radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy arises due to compression of the nerve roots that sit near your cervical vertebrae. Nerve root damage causes pain and affects your sense of touch along the length of the nerve’s pathway, which runs down your arm and into your hand.
The symptoms of cervical radiculopathy may affect part or all of the path of the nerve, depending on where the roots originate.
What causes cervical radiculopathy?
Pressure on the nerve root that causes cervical radiculopathy can be due to several causes, including:
- Herniated cervical disc
Degenerative changes in the spine are the most frequent cause of cervical radiculopathy in middle-aged and older people, whereas in younger patients trauma that causes a cervical disc to rupture is more common.
What are the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy?
The chief symptom of cervical radiculopathy is pain, which generally radiates through your:
- Upper back
Cervical radiculopathy may also cause muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling sensations that extends to your hand and fingers, as well as a loss of coordination.
How is cervical radiculopathy diagnosed?
Your doctor first checks your medical history and listens to your description of the symptoms you’re experiencing. They then carry out a physical examination of your neck and arm, looking at your reflexes and response to nerve stimulation, and assessing any loss of muscle strength.
Following the initial exam, your doctor uses diagnostic imaging technologies and other tests to get more detailed evidence of the nature of your problem, such as:
- CT scan
- Electromyogram (EMG)
- Nerve conduction study (NCS)
These tests help to pinpoint which nerve is affected and to what extent so your doctor can prescribe the most appropriate treatment regimen.
What treatments are available for cervical radiculopathy?
Physical therapy is key to recovery from cervical radiculopathy, and your doctor is likely to recommend it in combination with pain medications. Many patients find relief from their symptoms after a course of chiropractic manipulation, or your doctor may recommend an epidural steroid injection.
If your cervical radiculopathy doesn’t improve over the course of the next three months, you may need to have surgery to remove the cause of the nerve root compression.
Call Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care or schedule an appointment online today if you have any of the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.