Cervical radiculopathy, often called a pinched nerve, is a change in how a nerve works resulting from one of the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae being compressed.
The nerves that run through your cervical spine send messages back and forth between your muscles and your brain. Damage to these nerve roots can cause pain and the loss of sensation along the nerve's pathway into the arm and hand, depending on where the damaged roots are located.
The main symptom of cervical radiculopathy is pain that spreads into the arm, neck, chest, upper back or shoulders. Other symptoms may include:
Damage can occur due to pressure from material from a ruptured disc, degenerative changes in bones, arthritis, or other injuries that put pressure on the nerve roots.
Less often, cervical radiculopathy is caused by:
To diagnose cervical radiculopathy, Dr Shiva will first ask you to describe all your symptoms and review your medical history. He will also complete a physical exam.
Dr Shiva may also request the following imaging tests:
For some people, the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy improve with time. If you require treatment, Dr Shiva will start with nonsurgical options such as medications and physical therapy.
In some cases, symptoms may not improve with nonsurgical care. Your surgeon may recommend surgery if you begin to show signs of:
Anterior cervical fusion is one of the most common surgeries to treat cervical radiculopathy caused by pressure from bone spurs and a herniated disc.
After surgery, you will probably be placed in a brace while healing occurs. Following an anterior cervical fusion, it is not unusual to wear a brace for 6 to 12 weeks while the fusion occurs.