Cervical radiculopathy is otherwise known as “pinched nerve.” It is brought about by the compression or irritation of one or more nerve roots in the cervical spine where it branches away from the spinal column. Since these nerves traverse the shoulders, arms and hands, a contusion or trauma in the cervical spine may result to pain radiating from the shoulder, down to the arm and hand. The pain may also come with weakness and numbness.
Cervical radiculopathy is frequently the result of the regular “wear and tear” adjustments that happen in the spinal cord as we advance in age. This may brought by conditions like arthritis. While it is common among older people, it may also affect younger people. In such a case, the cause is often unexpected injuries resulting to a herniated disc.
A herniated disc is a condition where the elastic cushions (discs) in between the vertebrae that pile on top of each other which makes up the spinal column. These discs in between the vertebrae are like rubber donuts with a jelly center inside a sturdy exterior. Otherwise known as slipped disk or ruptured disk, a herniated disc happens when the soft “jelly” center forcibly leaks out through a tear in the tough and sturdy exterior (of the disc).
This condition can result to the irritation of nearby nerves resulting to pain, weakness and numbness in an arm or leg. Nevertheless, most people with herniated disc do not require surgery to resolve the condition.
The main and most common symptom of cervical radiculopathy is pain. The pain is generally felt in the arm, shoulders, upper back, neck and chest, and may radiate to the arms and hands. Aside from the pain, the person with this condition may also experience muscle weakness, numbness, tingling sensation and discomfort. In some cases, people experience lack of coordination, particularly in the hands.
Generally, cervical radiculopathy is caused by degenerative changes in the bones, ruptured disc, arthritis and injuries that pinch the nerve roots.
A recurrent source of nerve root injury is degenerative disc disease. This results when a spinal disc weakens or wears out, resulting to the vertebral bones on top and under the disc to move out of its original place. This results to the top and bottom vertebral bones to touch, “pinching” the neighboring nerve roots.
Another common cause of nerve root injury is called spinal stenosis. As the bones and joints of the spinal column degenerate or wear out, bony spurs form around the degenerated bones and pushed inside the spinal canal and foramen space. This movement also creates a painful pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
There are various treatment options for cervical radiculopathy. This condition may be treated with a combination of pain medications and physical therapy. Pain meds include anti-inflammatory drugs or non-steroidal medication such as naproxen and ibuprofen. Injected or oral steroids may also be prescribed as treatment.
Physical therapy plays a huge part in managing the pain and other symptoms of cervical radiculopathy. The therapy includes exercises, modalities, and cervical traction and mobilization. However, in severe cases, as when the compression puts too much pressure on the nerves, surgery may be required.
Here at AZ Pain and Spine Institute, we offer pain management solutions for various conditions, including cervical radiculopathy.
We are equipped with cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art facilities. We also have a team of experienced and highly specialized professionals. As pain specialists, we can provide you with the necessary treatment for cervical radiculopathy.
Make an appointment with AZ Pain and Spine Institute today.