Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)

Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a pinched nerve, is an irritation of the cervical spine nerve roots. A cervical spine injury can cause shoulder, arm, and hand symptoms.

What You Need to Know About Cervical Radiculopathy/Pinched Nerve

What is Cervical Radiculopathy?

The term "cervical radiculopathy" refers to a pinched nerve. This condition is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the cervical spine. When a nerve root becomes irritated or damaged, it can cause significant pain that radiates into the shoulder. Some people also experience numbness and muscle weakness. The condition tends to affect people in the age range of 50-54, and men tend to get it more than women.

Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms, and hands, an injury in the cervical spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Cervical radiculopathy may result from a variety of conditions involving the cervical spinal column's bones and tissues.

Issues of the spine are serious injuries that can significantly impede your lifestyle. Book an appointment now with a Resurgens Orthopaedic Spine Center expert to find out more.

What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

There are many causes of a pinched nerve. Any condition that causes a nerve root to become inflamed or damaged may develop a pinched nerve — these range from inflammation due to accumulated trauma to irritation from bone spurs.

One common cause is a herniated disc. A herniated disc is a rupture in the fibrous outer wall of a vertebral disc, which allows the soft nucleus of the disc to bulge outward. This bulge can press harmfully against a nerve root.

Some people develop pinched nerves as a result of degenerative disc disease. This condition is caused by age-related weakening of the spinal discs. Weaker bones are more susceptible to shifting out of position and rubbing against one another. The bones can touch, pinching nearby nerve roots.

Spinal stenosis is another common cause of pinched nerves. As bones degenerate, spurs may edge their way into the spinal canal, which can create pressure on the nerve roots.

Other common causes of pinched nerves include fracture, tumor, infection, and sarcoidosis.

Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy

Depending on where the injury occurs, nerve root injury can create different levels of pain. Cervical damage usually appears in the C5, C6, or C7 vertebrae of the spine. Injuries to different parts of the spine produce symptoms distinct to each portion, including weakness, numbness, pain, and tingling.

For example, injury to the topmost vertebrae — the C5 — can cause symptoms like pain and weakness, but C6 injury may cause weakness and shoulder pain. And injuries at the lowest vertebrae (the C7) can cause weakness in the hand and arm, and they may cause pain to radiate throughout the arm.

How is Cervical Radiculopathy Diagnosed?

Understanding the cause of your pinched nerve begins by booking an appointment at Resurgens Orthopaedics. During your appointment, a physician will complete a physical that tests the reflexes of your arms and hands. Be prepared to experience some irritation, and your doctor may ask you to recreate the triggers for your condition.

Your doctor may request a diagnostic screening to narrow down your symptoms. The use of x-rays, CTs, and MRI scans can help your doctor get a better picture of your condition. These scans will help your doctor prepare a treatment plan.

Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy

There are many possible treatment options for pinched nerves. Depending on the extent of your condition, your doctor will recommend different treatments, including non-surgical and surgical options.

Non-surgical options include wearing braces, collars, attending physical therapy, and steroid injections. For many people, non-surgical alternatives will deliver sufficient health outcomes. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the appropriate treatment.

However, your doctor may recommend surgery if you are experiencing extreme symptoms like the problem spreading, muscle wasting, increased weakness, or escalating pain. Surgical procedures like anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) can provide relief from pinched nerves. After ACDF surgery, expect to wear a brace for a month or two while the fusion heals.

Finding the right care for conditions starts by visiting the expert physicians at Resurgens Spine Center. Book your appointment now.

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