Kevin M. Moran, MD

Cervical radiculopathy

Aug 03, 2023
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What is a pinched nerve in the neck?

Cervical radiculopathy, or a pinched nerve in the neck,  is a condition characterized by the compression or irritation of a nerve root in the cervical spine (neck). The term "radiculopathy" refers to a set of symptoms that result from pressure on a nerve root, leading to pain, weakness, and numbness in the areas of the body that the affected nerve supplies.

Causes of cervical radiculopathy:

Herniated Disc: A herniated or slipped disc in the cervical spine can put pressure on the nearby nerve roots.

Degenerative Disc Disease: As the spinal discs in the neck naturally wear down with age, they can cause narrowing of the space through which the nerve roots pass.

Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerve roots, can lead to compression of the nerves.

Bone Spurs: Overgrowth of bone in the spine, known as bone spurs or osteophytes, can impinge on the nerve roots.

Cervical Spondylosis: This condition involves degenerative changes in the cervical spine, including the discs and joints.

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy:

Neck Pain: Pain is usually felt on one side of the neck and may radiate to the shoulder, arm, and hand.

Arm Pain: Pain can be sharp, burning, or shooting and often follows a specific nerve pathway down the arm.

Numbness and Tingling: The affected arm and hand may experience sensations of numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles.

Weakness: Muscle weakness in the arm, forearm, or hand can occur due to nerve compression.

Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills: In some cases, cervical radiculopathy can lead to difficulty with tasks that require precise hand movements.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Make an appointment with Dr. Kevin Moran, a board certified orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in spine surgery. He will conduct a physical examination and review the patient's medical history. Diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT scan, or electromyography (EMG) may be used to confirm the diagnosis and identify the exact location of nerve compression.

Treatment for cervical radiculopathy aims to relieve symptoms and address the underlying cause. Options include:

Rest: Avoiding activities that worsen symptoms can help promote healing.

Pain Medication: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers may be used for pain management.

Physical Therapy: Specific exercises can improve neck strength and flexibility and alleviate pressure on the nerve root.

Epidural Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Immobilization: Wearing a soft cervical collar can limit neck movement and reduce pressure on the nerve roots.

Surgery: In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered to relieve pressure on the nerve roots.

The treatment approach will depend on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. Early intervention and proper management can lead to improved outcomes for individuals with cervical radiculopathy. If you suspect you have cervical radiculopathy or are experiencing symptoms of nerve compression, make an appointment with Dr. Kevin Moran, a board certified orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in spine surgery for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.