Cervical radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve in your neck, is when a nerve passing through the cervical spine becomes damaged or inflamed due to compression. This condition may cause pain that radiates towards the arm, muscle weakness, and numbness.
What is Cervical Radiculopathy?
Your necks branch out for your spinal cord between the vertebrae and into various parts of your body to convey messages between your brain and muscles. When these nerves become pinched, damaged, or irritated, the condition may be called radiculopathy. This can occur at any area along the spine, including the cervical area commonly referred to as the neck.
A pinched nerve often occurs due to the narrowing of the space where the nerve exits the spine; this narrowing may be the result of an injury, bone spur, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or another underlying medical condition.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of cervical radiculopathy can vary depending on which nerve is being compressed. The most common symptom is pain felt in the neck that extends through the shoulder, down the arm, and towards the hand and fingers. This pain can be dull, aching, or sharp. Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of reflexes
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling sensation in hands or fingers
- Poor coordination
Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy
Your doctor may be able to determine the cause of your symptoms through a physical examination, including a test of muscle strength and reflexes along with your medical history. However additional tests may be conducted to confirm your diagnosis such as imaging tests.
Your treatment will depend on the location and the cause of your condition. During your consultation, we will discuss which treatment options are right for your needs and lifestyle.
In mild cases, non-surgical treatment options such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, heat and ice therapy, muscle relaxants, manual manipulation, and physical therapy may be able to relieve symptoms. If caused by injury or stress, activity modifications and limits on strenuous activity may be recommended. Your doctor may also prescribe a cervical collar to wear around your neck, this collar can alleviate pain by limiting the movement of your neck and allowing the muscles in the surrounding area to relax.
If you still experience noticeable pain, your doctor may suggest steroid injections to reduce inflammation and allow the nerve to heal.
After several months, if conservative treatments prove ineffective with minimal results, surgery may be recommended. Surgery should only be considered once all other treatment options have been tested. The type of surgery will depend on your condition, surgery is rarely used for cervical radiculopathy but may be necessary if the disc is herniated or damaged.
If you’ve been experiencing significant pain in the area with muscle weakness and loss of sensation, we urge you to seek medical treatment. For more information on cervical radiculopathy or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today.