The NeuroMedical Center | Patient Education Library | Cervical Radiculopathy

Understanding Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy, commonly referred to as a “pinched nerve,” is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the neck (cervical spine).  Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms, and hands, cervical radiculopathy causes pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness down the arm and into the hand.

What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy most often arises from degenerative changes that occur in the spine as we age or from an injury that causes a herniated, or bulging, intervertebral disk.

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.

A less common cause of cervical radiculopathy includes spinal infection or tumor.

Common Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms

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 also experience:

  • Muscle weakness and/or numbness or tingling in the fingers or hands
  • 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.

Expert Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy in Louisiana

The spine specialists at The NeuroMedical Center take a team approach to diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating cervical radiculopathy.  Our experts offer a wide variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options for the full range of spinal conditions.  Radiculopathy symptoms can often be managed with nonsurgical treatments, but minimally invasive surgery can also help some patients. Non-surgical options including physical therapy, 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.  

Trust Louisiana’s leading team of spine experts to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis of your condition, along with the most advanced treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms in the most conservative way possible.  Call to schedule an appointment today (225) 768-2050 or request an appointment online.