Cervical radiculopathy is a condition wherein an injury has occurred in or near the root of the spinal nerves located at the cervical spine. It is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve. The nerve ending has been compressed and this constriction can lead to pain and discomfort.
Typical neck pain that the person experiences is characterized by sharp or numb feeling that is isolated at the neck area which sometimes radiates to the upper back. Painful sensation of cervical radiculopathy on the other hand is different. It is usually characterized as sharp and stabbing and it travels down toward the arm of the affected nerve. In some cases, there is a complete numb feeling of the affected arm and it may be too weak to engage in even simple activities like taking a glass of water or combing the hair.
When people grow older, the spinal discs also experience some changes. These may be in the form of losing a significant amount of hydration, a change in the normal shape and degeneration of intervertebral discs.
Bone spurs can also form with time. These bone spurs, together with the deterioration of the intervertebral discs can cause a lot of friction and may cause some nerves to be pinched. This is the reason why a person feels excruciating pain and even though the nerve is only pinched at its roots, the sensation will travel to the whole nerve stretch.
Once you go to a doctor, he will check first if it really is a condition of cervical radiculopathy. The doctor can have your neck x-rayed and a CT scan can also be ordered. The CT scan will be able to show the bone spur formations and other bones in the neck region. An MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging can also be performed for the doctor to check if there is nerve compression or disc herniation. If the physician wants to rule out other conditions that may have caused the symptoms, he may order electromyelography.
The treatment for this condition varies from patient to patient. Most of the patients that have cervical radiculopathy actually don’t need radical treatments since they get better as the time goes by. Some doctors don’t even administer treatment to patients showing very little symptoms of the disorder.
Usually, people want the pain to go away instantly to be able to get on with their lives and function in a normal way. That is when medications get involved. Soft collars are given to patients so that the neck can rest because the collar restrains the patient from moving it too much.
Physical therapy is once again a very helpful method to strengthen muscles of the cervical area for people with cervical radiculopathy.