Cervical radiculopathy is a type of neck pain that occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated
The condition can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.
In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of cervical radiculopathy, its symptoms, how it can be treated, and provide up-to-date scientific references to support the information provided.
What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy is typically caused by a herniated disk in the neck, which is when the soft tissue between the vertebrae in the spine pushes out and puts pressure on the nerves.
Other causes of cervical radiculopathy include spinal stenosis, which is when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the nerves, and degenerative disc disease, which is when the discs in the spine begin to wear down and lose their cushioning.
Common Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of cervical radiculopathy can vary depending on the location of the compressed nerve.
Common signs and symptoms include –
- Pain that radiates from the neck down to the shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the arms and hands.
- Weakness in the arms and hands.
- Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt or picking up small objects.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
How Can Cervical Radiculopathy be Treated?
Treatment for cervical radiculopathy depends on the underlying cause.
In mild cases, rest, ice or heat therapy, graded guided exercise and pain relievers may be sufficient to manage the symptoms.
In more severe cases, prescription medication or surgery may be required.
Physiotherapy can be particularly effective in treating cervical radiculopathy caused by musculoskeletal issues.
It can help to reduce pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen the muscles that support the neck and spine.
Common physiotherapy techniques used to treat cervical radiculopathy include massage, stretches, and progressive resistance exercises that focus on strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles.
In addition to physiotherapy, medication may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.
This may include over-the-counter pain medication, muscle relaxants, or prescription-strength pain relievers, but it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication.
Cervical radiculopathy can be a source of discomfort and can affect a person’s quality of life. However, with proper treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
If you experience any symptoms of cervical radiculopathy, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. With the right treatment plan, you can enjoy a comfortable and healthy life.
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Wainner RS, Fritz JM, Irrgang JJ, et al. Reliability and diagnostic accuracy of the clinical examination and patient self-report measures for cervical radiculopathy. Spine. 2003;28(1):52-62.
Cohen SP, Hanling S, Bicket MC, et al. Epidural steroids for cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain Res. 2018;11:2231-2249.
Bhangle SD, Sapru A. Cervical radiculopathy. StatPearls Publishing. 2022.