Commonly referred to as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy is the term for neurological pain resulting from a compressed nerve in the cervical spine at the point where it branches away from the spinal cord. The related discomfort often radiates to nearby areas, although patients usually respond well to conservative treatments.
What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?
A pinched neck nerve is often caused by age-related wear and tear that occurs over time. Degeneration causes discs within the neck to become weak, which may result in inner disc material breaking through to the outside of the disc. The resulting herniation can press on nearby nerves. Discs can also cause nerve compression as they lose height or become dehydrated and bulge or shift.
Contributing factors to cervical radiculopathy may include:
- Cervical spinal stenosis – Changes in the structure of spinal joints sometimes narrows spaces within the neck and places pressure on nerves
- Injury or sudden trauma – Often a cause of cervical radiculopathy in younger patients, injury to the bones and joints in the neck may result in nerve compression or irritation
Signs and Symptoms
Pain, general muscle weakness, and numbness are the most common symptoms associated with cervical radiculopathy. Ranging from dull to sharp, pain may also be relegated to a single shoulder or felt in specific areas of the arms or fingers. Symptoms may also include:
- “Pins and needles” sensations
- Loss of sensation
- Pain affected by movement
Diagnosis and Treatment
X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and electromyography, a measure of electrical impulses of relaxed and contracted muscles, are some of the tests used to diagnose a pinched nerve. Patients are often treated with:
- Temporary use of a soft cervical collar
- Customized exercises to strengthen neck muscles
- Epidural steroid injections
- Narcotic pain relievers
If neck pain from a pinched nerve isn’t going away or becomes progressively worse, get a diagnosis from your doctor or a spine specialist. Surgery to treat cervical radiculopathy may include the artificial disc replacement surgery Beverly Hills surgeons specialize in, or they may need fusion surgery to stabilize the cervical spine if all or part of a disc has to be removed.
If your neck pain does require some form of surgery, trust in Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute to take care of your pain and start you down the road to recovery. Schedule an in-person appointment today by calling our office at 310-828-7757.