You have just been diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy. In other words, you have a
pinched nerve. When a nerve root becomes compressed, the nerve essentially is
pinched, causing it to not only result in pain, but an individual may also experience a
loss of sensation in the area where the nerve runs. The nerves that are usually affected
are the seven vertebrae that are located in the neck.
Like many conditions in the spine, cervical radiculopathy usually happens naturally as
we age. Though many may assume that only adults or those who are 45+ will
experience cervical radiculopathy, that assumption is not always true. It is more
common in adults; however, young teens may experience cervical radiculopathy as
well. When occurring in older adults, cervical radiculopathy is usually a result of
conditions such as arthritis or spondylosis. If a degenerative condition is present, bone
spurs may begin to form in attempts to strengthen the weak bones. Because of these
bone spurs, the spine begins to stiffen.
If an individual has cervical radiculopathy when younger, it is more likely a result of an
abrupt injury which led to a slipped or herniated disc. When discs slip, they can also put
pressure on the nerve roots resulting in this kind of pain. Another cause of cervical
radiculopathy could be a forceful trauma that has previously occurred in the neck or
When trying to determine if you are experiencing cervical radiculopathy, the most
common symptom to look for is pain in the arm, neck, upper back, shoulders or chest. If
pain is felt in any one, or all of these areas, more than likely it is due to cervical
radiculopathy. Other less noticeable symptoms include numbness in the hands or
fingers, muscle weakness or becoming less coordinated, mainly with your hands.
Once pain is noticed and a visit to the doctor has been decided on, a doctor will want to
examine and review your medical history. Not only will your neck and back be looked at,
but the doctor will also want to possibly check out your hands, arms and shoulders to
test strength, sensations and reflexes.
Depending on what has caused the pinched nerve, most cases of cervical radiculopathy
can be treated with simple pain medications, steroids, or physical therapy. Most times,
the nerve will get better on its own over time, going away as quickly as just a few days
to a few weeks. However, it can last for a few weeks, depending on the severity of the
X-rays will more than likely be done to view your bones and see if there are any other
conditions present, as well as look at the alignment of the spine and neck vertebrae. In
addition, CT scans or an MRI may be performed to view any possible bone spurs or
herniated discs. Another possible test that may be done is an electromyography, also
known as an EMG. This test will check the electrical impulses of your muscles, both
during movement and when at rest. Understanding and ensuring there are no other factors at play when concerning the nerves can be crucial to diagnosing and ridding the
patient of the neck or back pain.