Cervical radiculopathy is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the cervical spine. Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms, and hands, an injury in the cervical spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Cervical radiculopathy may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the cervical spinal column.
One common cause of cervical radiculopathy is a herniated disc. A herniated disc is a rupture in the fibrous outer wall of a vertebral disc, which allows the soft nucleus of the disc to bulge outward. This bulge can press harmfully against a nerve root.
Another common cause of cervical radiculopathy is degenerative disc disease. It occurs when a spinal disc weakens, allowing vertebral bones above and below the disc to shift out of position. The bones can touch, pinching nearby nerve roots.
When bones, discs, or joints of the spine degenerate, bony spurs may form and push into the spinal canal or foramen space. This is called spinal stenosis, and it can also create harmful pressure against the spinal cord or nerve roots.
The main symptoms of cervical radiculopathy is pain that spreads into the arm, neck, chest, upper back, and/or shoulders. A person with radiculopathy may experience muscle weakness and/or numbness or tingling in the fingers or hands. Other symptoms may include lack of coordination, especially in the hands.
Nerve root injury in the cervical spine most commonly involves one of the three lowest levels of the cervical vertebrae, which are called C5, C6, and C7. For example, an injury at the C5 level may cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and upper arm. An injury at the next vertebral level, the C6 vertebrae, may cause pin in the shoulder and arm, and it may also cause weakness in the arm. And finally, an injury at the lowest level, the C7 vertebrae, may cause pain from the neck all the way down to the hand, along with weakness in the arm and hand.
Specialists at The NeuroMedical Center offer wide variety of treatment options for cervical radiculopathy. Non-surgical options including pain blockers, steroid injections, and anti-inflammatories will always be explored first. If there is no improvement in symptoms after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment, then surgery might be considered.
If you or a loved one is experiencing neck pain, it is important that you seek the expertise of physicians with the specialized knowledge and training to diagnose and treat your individual condition. Request an appointment with one of our experts today.