Cervical radiculopathy is the clinical description of pain and neurological symptoms resulting from any type of condition that irritates a nerve in the cervical spine (neck).
Cervical nerves exit the cervical spine (neck) at each level, C1 – C7, (nerves in the neck exit above the designated vertebral level at all levels except the last one; C8 exits below C7 vertebra) and then branch out to supply muscles that enable the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers to function. They also carry sensory fibers to the skin and muscles that provide sensation.
When any nerve root in the cervical spine is irritated through compression or inflammation, the symptoms can radiate along that nerve’s pathway into the arm and hand. The patient’s specific cervical radiculopathy symptoms will depend primarily on which nerve is affected. The symptoms may also be referred to as radicular pain.
Any condition that injures or somehow irritates the cervical nerve can cause cervical radiculopathy. The most common causes include:
Infrequently, cervical radiculopathy can be caused by other conditions, such as a tumor, fracture or sarcoidosis, which can compress or cause damage to the cervical nerve roots.
Patients with cervical radiculopathy typically feel pain, weakness or numbness in the areas served by the damaged nerve. Pain can be in one area only, like the shoulder, or progress along the entire arm. The type of pain also can vary. Some patients describe dull, all over pain; others describe the pain as severe burning or sharp. Patients may feel tingling, “pins and needles” or numbness.
Certain neck movements, like bending the neck back, side to side, or rotating it, may increase the pain. Some patients report that pain decreases when they place a hand behind their head; the movement may be relieving the pressure and traction on the nerve root which then lessens their symptoms.
Virginia Interventional Spine Associates (VISA) offers a variety of specialized procedures to alleviate pain associated with cervical radiculopathy. As a premier pain management provider based in Fredericksburg, Va, we pride ourselves as an effective cervical radiculopathy treatment center, capable of easing the pressure, pain, and numbness you may be feeling in your body.