Cervical radiculopathy describes a pinched nerve that occurs when various types of tissue—including bones, muscles, cartilage or tendons—interfere with the normal pathways that carry nerves throughout the body. In the case of cervical radiculopathy, interference happens at or near the roots of nerves that branch from the upper portion of the spinal cord.
Symptoms often include pain that radiates from the affected nerve and down the arm, muscle weakness and numbness or tingling. Depending on the location of the pinched nerve, these symptoms may be felt in the shoulder area, the bicep or tricep muscles in the arm, and down into the thumb or middle finger.
North American Spine Can Help
North American Spine provides the minimally invasive Cervical AccuraScope procedure to relieve pressure caused by bulging discs, bone spurs and other matter compressing delicate nerves.
Most patients feel immediate relief following the outpatient procedure, and are able to resume light activities the very next day.
You don’t have to live with the chronic pain associated with cervical radiculopathy. Allow the specialists at North American Spine to help. Request a free MRI review.
More about Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical Radiculopathy Causes
A pinched nerve occurs when various types of tissue — including bones, muscles, cartilage or tendons — interfere with the normal pathways that carry nerves throughout your body. In the case of a cervical radiculopathy, this interference happens at or near the roots of nerves that branch from the upper portion of the spinal cord. The most common cause of this type of nerve pinching is a condition called a herniated disc, which involves leakage and/or shape changes in the gel-like discs that sit between the spinal bones and provide protection against traumatic damage and daily wear and tear. When leakage occurs, the soft interior of a disc can push directly against a nerve and also trigger a form of chemical nerve irritation. Discs with altered shapes can also intrude into the nerve space.
Cervical radiculopathy also commonly occurs in connection with the age-related wear and tear of a type of arthritis called osteoarthritis, which in turn can lead to the formation of bone growths called bone spurs. When these spurs form in an opening called a foramen, which normally gives a nerve passage from the spinal cord through nearby bone, they can impinge upon the nerve and trigger symptoms that are more or less identical to a herniated disc. Other potential causes of a radiculopathy include rheumatoid arthritis, tumors and other spinal lesions, and diseases such as Lyme disease, herpes, histoplasmosis and syphilis.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
General symptoms of a cervical radiculopathy include pain that radiates down the arm from the affected nerve, muscle weakness and numbness or tingling. If pinching occurs at the C6 vertebra in your neck, these symptoms will appear in the tip of your shoulder and at the border of your trapezius muscle, and may also radiate down to your thumb. In addition, you may experience weakness in your biceps muscle or reduced reflexes in your biceps or brachioradialis muscles. If pinching occurs at your C7 vertebra, pain will appear in the area of your shoulder blade and radiate down to your middle finger. In addition, you may experience weakness and reduced reflexes in your triceps muscle.
Cervical Radiculopathy Treatments
Medications commonly used in the treatment of a cervical radiculopathy include aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); oral corticosteroids; and steroids injected near the site of the pinched nerve. People with severe pain sometimes receive short-term doses of opioid narcotics. Additional treatments include use of a soft cervical collar during the day, use of a cervical pillow at nighttime and physical therapy or exercises designed to relieve nerve pressure and increase neck flexibility and strength. Your doctor may recommend surgery to correct any structural problems if you have severe pain, muscle wasting, worsening symptoms of numbness or weakness, or develop additional nerve-related problems in your legs.
Take the Next Step
Take the next step toward treatment. Contact a patient coordinator at North American Spine to discuss your symptoms, medical history and past treatments, and to request a free review of your MRI report.