A radiculopathy is a condition where the nerve or nerves emanating from the spinal column are inflamed, pinched or somehow impaired due to a lack of blood flow. A cervical radiculopathy involves the nerves that emanate from the neck area of the spine and serve the arms, shoulder and hands. Neck vertebrae are smaller and more delicate than the vertebrae lower in the spine and can easily become damaged in an accident or adversely affected by a diseased condition in the area. Vertebrae are separated and cushioned by discs that assist the nerve channels exiting the spine to pass unobstructed. When a disc ruptures or herniates from trauma or strain, it causes the spinal nerves to become compressed resulting in pain, weakness or numbness in the area served by the nerve. Other causes of cervical radiculopathy are trauma to the area, spinal degeneration, spinal tumors, bone spurs, or congenital deformities of the spine. The experts at Chapman Spine and Orthopedic Institute can determine the exact cause of a cervical radiculopathy and recommend a course of treatment with the goal of restoring normal functionality without pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Referred pain is a usual symptom of a cervical radiculopathy. This is where the pain is felt in the area served by the nerve, not at the actual injury site. There may be no pain at all in the neck but severe pain down the arm or in the hand. The arm may be weak or reflexes may be absent or weak. Headaches called occipital headaches that originate in the back of the head and neck may also be present. Physical examinations help to determine the extent of the injury. An MRI is a standard diagnostic tool as it clearly shows the nerves, discs and bones of the cervical area in addition to any irregular soft tissue present at the location. Diagnostic experts can accurately isolate the exact location of the injury and assist the doctor in determining a course of treatment to alleviate the condition and heal the nerves.
Initial treatment is usually directed at reducing pain and inflammation, including physical methods such as traction, rest, immobilization and medication. Physical therapy consists of gentle exercises to reduce pain and restore mobility. A well-designed physical therapy program is far better than doing nothing and waiting for improvement and will result is more rapid healing and less impairment of motion and strength. If you have symptoms of cervical radiculopathy or would like to be examined by a fully qualified medical specialist, Chapman Spine and Orthopedic Institute may be able to help you today.
Contact Chapman Spine and Orthopedic Institute
for a diagnosis and treatment of cervical radiculopathy.