What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called “pinched nerve”, refers to a compressed or irritated nerve near the cervical vertebrae. This compression usually causes pain that radiates to the upper extremities (shoulder, arm, hand or fingers). It may also cause muscle weakness and numbness.
The spine is made up of 24 bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. These bones connect to create a canal that protects the spinal cord. Cervical radiculopathy occurs in the cervical spine — the seven small vertebrae that form the neck.
Cervical Radiculopathy Causes
Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by degenerative changes in the spine or “wear and tear” that occur as we age. It can also be caused by an injury that results in a herniated disk. Some common causes of cervical radiculopathy are:
- Cervical herniated disc
- Cervical foraminal stenosis
- Degenerative changes
- Cervical vertebra fracture
- Other causes may involve tumors, infection, and sarcoidosis.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
Cervical radiculopathy signs and symptoms are felt commonly on just one side of the body, but they can be on both sides. The most common symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness in the areas served by the affected nerve root. These symptoms may be felt in one area only, such as the shoulder, or progress along the entire arm and into the hand and fingers.
Cervical Radiculopathy Treatments
The majority of patients get better over time and do not need treatment. In some cases, however, cervical radiculopathy does not improve and requires treatment. In most cases, cervical radiculopathy responds well to conservative treatment that includes medication, physical therapy, and steroid injections.
If conservative treatment options do not relieve the symptoms and/or there is significant compression on the nerve to the extent that motor weakness results, surgery may be necessary. The recommended procedure depends on many factors such as symptoms and the location of the involved nerve root.
At Spine & Orthopedic Center, our spine specialists can also. For appointments, call us at 888-409-8006.