Cervical Radiculopathy

Definition:
Radiculopathy is the clinical term for a condition of the nerves, and cervical means that the affected nerve is located in the neck. Cervical radiculopathy is usually a result from a pinched or compressed nerve, and for this reason, patients usually have an underlying condition causing the nerve to send pain signals.

Causes:
Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by aging. As we get older, patients are more susceptible to conditions like degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Both naturally occur as the spine experiences normal wear and tear, but if the spinal discs and joints cannot properly support the spine, the nerves can be affected by these anatomical changes and leave patients in a lot of pain. This is also true of herniated discs. However, the difference is that herniated discs can be a result of aging and the natural wear of the spinal disc, but it can also be caused by injury. Lifting heavy objects or twisting the spine may result in injury causing one of the discs in the neck to compress a nerve.

Symptoms:
Since cervical radiculopathy is a condition of the nerves, patients are likely to feel pain that extends from the neck into the upper body. Patients may experience weakness and pain in the shoulders, arms, and even fingers. Cervical radiculopathy can be associated with symptoms of shooting pain along the inside of the arm as well as a weak grip or loss of coordination. 

Treatments:
In order to treat cervical radiculopathy, the team at TriState Pain Institute must treat the underlying condition that is irritating the nerve. To diagnose the source of neck pain, patients may need to undergo a physical examination and have some diagnostic imaging done. As another step to confirm the condition, one of our pain management experts may perform a nerve block to temporarily stop a nerve from firing. If the patient experiences less pain, the physician can confirm which nerve in the cervical spine is causing the issue. If a disc issue is present, the disc that is pinching the nerve needs to be identified, and so patients may need to undergo a discography

If the patient feels significantly better after the nerve block, they can come back for routine steroid injections every few months. Depending on the severity of pain, our team may suggest spinal bracing, spinal cord stimulation for neck pain, and more. At TriState Pain Institute, we want patients to have a full continuum of care. If needed, our physicians can work with you for any additional needs you may have including workman’s compensation and referrals to specialized care, including massage or physical therapy.

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