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Cervical Radiculopathy

A neck problem where irritation of a spinal nerve creates neck aches and arm pain, numbness, or weakness

Facts and Information About Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is a term that describes an irritated spinal nerve in the neck. Spinal nerves are large nerves that leave the spine to reach the rest of the body, where they control body movements and a persons ability to feel pain.

The neck (also known as the cervical spine) is an area that is likely to experience injuries and wear and tear. Damage in the neck may put pressure on a spinal nerve, pinchingit, or create inflammation that causes the nerve to swell.

Since spinal nerves branch off from the neck to reach the upper body, a person with an irritated spinal nerve in this area can have neck pain with or without arm pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness. Also, people may feel headaches or pain and numbness in the face.

Some interesting facts:

  • Although cervical radiculopathy is most likely to appear after a person turns 50 years of age, the condition can occur at any age.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from this problem.
  • Every year 107 out of 100,000 men develop cervical radiculopathy as compared to 63 out of 100,000 women.

Contact National Spine & Pain Centers to schedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist for Cervical Radiculopathy treatment today.

Do you get nervous or anxious prior to a medical procedure? Our affiliated practices now offer Nitrous Gas Analgesia (Pronox) for select treatments! Click the video below to learn more.

How Cervical Radiculopathy Starts

Cervical radiculopathy starts when a spinal nerve in the neck is irritated.

A spinal nerve becomes irritated when:

  • There is pressure on the spinal nerves as they leave the spine through tiny openings in the backbones. Wear-and-tear, traumas, or arthritis can damage the discs and joints in the spine. Eventually, bone spurs start to grow on the neck bones. These changes create a narrowing of the tiny openings through which spinal nerves travel, putting pressure on the nerves and irritating them.
  • There is a herniated disc. A herniated disc, also known as a “ruptured” or “slipped” disc, occurs when one of the rubbery pieces of cartilage that sit between the neck bones breaks or slips out of place. If the herniated disc presses into a nearby spinal nerve, the “pinched” nerve becomes irritated. A herniated disc may also cause local inflammation and swelling in a spinal nerve without touching the nerve.

Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy (a pinched nerve) can appear at all levels of the spine but is most likely to start in high-strain areas like the neck and low back.

The exact place in the spine where radiculopathy occurs determines the body area where a person has pain.

For example:

A pinched nerve is in the mid-back (thoracic radiculopathy) causes chest and torso pain, tingling, and numbness.

A pinched nerve is in the low back (lumbar radiculopathy) may trigger pain, numbness, weakness in a leg, foot, or toes.

A pinched nerve in the neck may cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Shooting pain in an arm, hand, or fingers
  • Numbness in a band pattern
  • Arm weakness
  • Loss of reflexes in the arm
  • Tingling sensations
  • Neck pain
  • Headache
  • Pain and numbness in the face

Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy

An irritated nerve in the neck is a common complaint in people who visit a pain specialist. To find the exact place in the spine where you have an irritated nerve, your pain specialist will:

  • Obtain a medical history
  • Examine the neck and back, check for arm numbness, decreased reflexes, and difficulty grasping things

The following tests help:

Do you get nervous or anxious prior to a medical procedure? Our affiliated practices now offer Nitrous Gas Analgesia (Pronox) for select treatments! Click the video below to learn more.

Relief for People With Cervical Radiculopathy

Nerve pain may improve slowly over several days or weeks. A person may need 2-6 weeks of rest, physical therapy, oral medications, and other conservative treatments.

If conservative treatments fail, a pain specialist will provide minimally invasive (non-surgical) treatments that calm the irritated nerve. If a person continues to have pain, the pain specialist will refer them to a surgeon for further evaluation.

For more information about the treatments offered by pain specialists, click on the terms below.

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