Cervical Radiculopathy Q & A
What is cervical radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy is a condition affecting the nerves in your neck that can cause pain and dysfunction in your arm and hand.
The bones at the top of your spine that form your neck are called the cervical vertebrae. Radiculopathy is a term that means the nerves in your spine are under pressure, trapped or getting pinched, so cervical radiculopathy is the pinching of nerves in your neck.
The pressure on the nerve roots that's responsible for cervical radiculopathy is most often due to a herniated or bulging cervical disc, osteoarthritis, or osteoporosis.
Degenerative conditions are more common in older people, whereas injuries that cause the cervical discs to rupture are more often to blame in younger patients.
Damage to the nerve roots in this section of your spine can alter your perception of touch as well as causing pain and may affect all or part of the nerve concerned.
How is cervical radiculopathy diagnosed?
The team at Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC begin by talking through your symptoms with you and reviewing your medical history.
Cervical radiculopathy causes pain that typically radiates from your neck into your upper back, shoulder, chest, and arm, as well as numbness or tingling, weakness, and loss of coordination in the affected arm.
These signs are a good indication that you have cervical radiculopathy, so your doctor tests your reflexes, nerve responses, and muscle strength as well. They may also ask for diagnostic imaging tests such as:
Once they determine which nerve is causing the problem and why, they can design the most appropriate treatment program for you.
CT (computed tomography) scan
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Nerve conduction study
How is cervical radiculopathy treated?
Most patients who have cervical radiculopathy recover well after a course of physical therapy, with pain-killing and anti-inflammatory medications when necessary. Epidural steroid injections can also be beneficial for patients when their pain is distressing or isn't responding.
If after three months, your pain isn't improving, you may need to undergo surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve root. The two most commonly used surgeries for cervical radiculopathy are:
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
ACDF is a minimally invasive procedure in which your surgeon removes a damaged or herniated cervical disc and fuses the spine to stabilize it and give your nerves more room.
Artificial disc replacement
Your surgeon replaces the damaged or herniated disc with an artificial one, so there's no need for spinal fusion.
If you need help finding relief from cervical radiculopathy, call Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment online.