As if spinal compression were not painful enough, a condition called Cervical Radiculopathy also comes in to cause damage and disturbance, as well as additional pain in the neck.
In addition, this damage may cause sensation loss in the hands and the arms as the nerve’s pathways are affected.
Cervical Radiculopathy is caused by dysfunction of one of the spinal nerves or the nerve of the root.
Sometimes it is both that have been damaged and cause this pain. In addition to physical symptoms, the condition also causes loss of certain motor functions, changes in reflexes and sensory loss.
Why does Cervical Radiculopathy Start?
Many different types of damage can cause Cervical Radiculopathy to occur. This includes arthritis, ruptured discs, bone changes caused by degeneration and injuries that cause excessive amounts of pressure to be placed onto the nerve roots.
It is usually older individuals who suffer from cervical radiculopathy due to degeneration in the bones, while younger individuals suffer due to accidents and trauma.
Those who are younger, however, are far more likely to feel the effects of the condition than older adults.
For most patients with cervical radiculopathy, foraminal encroachment of a spinal nerve is the cause of the condition.
In fact, about 75% of all new cases are caused by this complaint, which may result due to any number of factors, such as degenerative changes in the joints, cervical spondylosis, or even decreased disc height.
Types of Cervical Radiculopathy
The nerve that has been affected determines the type of cervical radiculopathy that is diagnosed. The different types include:
Those who have this type of the disease usually experience shoulder and upper arm pain and weakness.
The shoulder blades are usually an area that feels a great deal of pain. It is unusual for G5 to cause any type of tingling or numbing sensations.
This is the one of most common type of Radiculopathy diagnosed today. This condition causes weakness and pain all along the length of the arm as well as in the wrists, the biceps and even the thumb.
C7 is the most common type o Radiculopathy. With this condition a patient will endure pain and weakness throughout their upper body, as well as in their hands.
This type of Radiculopathy causes the patient to experience pain from the neck all the way into the hands.
Weakness is also common, and may be experienced in the hands, the arm, and the fingers.
Your doctor will determine the type of cervical radiculopathy affecting you after performing the physical examination and listening to your points of pain and other concerns with the condition. Most patients are diagnosed with C7 radiculopathy.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
Pain extending into the neck and arm; chest; shoulders; and the upper back are the most commonly associated symptoms of cervical radiculopathy, although, as mentioned above, the type of symptoms experienced will vary depending upon the type of cervical radiculopathy that you have.
Individuals with the condition may also experience tingling in their fingers and hands as well as weakness in the muscles.
Lack of coordination may inhibit an individual’s life. Discoordination may occur anywhere in the body, but the hands are a common location of coordination loss.
How to Treat Cervical Radiculopathy?
Although there is no formal treatment that detects cervical radiculopathy, physicians suspecting this condition in their patient will perform a variety of tests to make the condition diagnosis. This includes blood tests, patient history, a physical examination and several others.
One of the best things that a person with this condition can do to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort is immobilize themselves for a short period of time. This will eliminate inflammation, which oftentimes causes the initial pain.
A number of different products are available to ease the strain and the pain that is on the neck and eliminate the discomfort that comes with this condition.
Pillows are one of the most commonly used. Perhaps switching the pillow that you sleep with at night will also provide you with relief.
Opt for a special neck pillow to give you added support and to alleviate some of the stress on the neck due to sleeping an uneven levels.
Collars are also available. These collars are simple to place around the neck and provide added support when it is most needed.
Other treatment options are available, although you should always start with these at-home remedies first (as well as continue with them as needed.)
Several treatment options are available, including corticosteroids and other pain medications.
Some doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and non-steroidal medications to patients as well.
The pain medication your doctor recommends will vary based upon the severity of your pain and your preferences.
It is likely that your doctor will also recommend physical therapy as a treatment for cervical radiculopathy.
Exercises performed during physical therapy promote mobilization and movement, which aids greatly in the reduction of pain.
In addition, physical therapy may offer improvement of the neck muscle strength. Physical therapy should take place for a minimum period of six-weeks.
For optimum results it is also recommended that massage therapy be performed in conjunction with the physical therapy.
Apply heating and ice packs to your neck is another great way to alleviate some of the pain that is brought on by the condition.
Rotating between heat and cold for intervals of 15 minutes offers you instant relief o that pain.
Steroids may be an option or treatment of your condition. Injections of steroids into the spine block the nerves and provide the entire nerve root with the medication that eases the pain.
With the use of spinal injections, pain relief may be enjoyed in a period of as little as 14 days. Oftentimes steroid injects are used as an alternative to surgery.
Having the injections may greatly reduce the need for surgery.
In some severe cases the patient may need to undergo surgery in order to correct cervical radiculopathy.