Cervical vertebrae comprises of seven vertebral columns, which all together form upper part of spine. In this condition the sensory nerves are affected by a protruding intervertebral disk. Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that results from compression of the nerves near the cervical vertebrae.
Alternative Names of Cervical Radiculopathy : Herniated nucleus pulposus, Lumbar radiculopathy, Herniated intervertebral disk, Prolapsed intervertebral disk, Slipped disk, Ruptured disk
Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy
It can be caused by anything that puts pressure on the nerves roots in the spine.
1) In young people : Cervical radiculopathy may be caused due to a pressure from the material from ruptured disc. It may also be caused due to a pressure from herniated disk.
2) In older people : Cervical radiculopathy may be caused due to degenerative changes in bones or discs, which can put pressure on the nerves. Degenerative disk diseases like arthritis may also cause the nerves to compress.
Signs & Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy
Pain and numbness in the arm, hand or shoulder.
Weakness in the arm, hand or shoulder.
Neck pain or headaches in the back part of your head and tingling of fingers and hands.
Diagnosis of Cervical Radiculopathy Diagnosis will require -
Medical History - Knowledge of patient's complete medical history by doctor
Symptom Study - Various physical examinations are performed to produce symptoms
X-ray - To find any degenerative disk problem has occurred.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan - To evaluate the spine.
CT (Computed Tomography) scan - To evaluate spine.
Treatments of Cervical Radiculopathy
The treatment of cervical radiculopathy depends upon the medical history and the symptoms of a person. It involves non surgical and surgical methods.
A) Non-Surgical Methods :
Medications: Doctor may prescribe a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs (cortisteroids) and non-steroidal painkillers. Medications can be taken either orally or injected through epidural injections. Epidural injections are more effective as they are injected directly into the affected areas.
Physical Therapy: your doctor may prescribe you certain physical exercises like stretching, electrical stimulation and gentle cervical traction and mobilization. These exercises will help in reducing the pain caused by cervical radiculopathy.
B) Surgical Methods :
Anterior cervical discectomy : In this procedure, the disc that is causing the pressure that is herniated disc is removed. It is often used in combination with another procedure called anterior cervical fusion.
Anterior cervical fusion : In this procedure two vertebrae present on either side of the removed disc are fused together.
Prevention of Cervical Radiculopathy
Good Diet - Balanced diet including vitamins and minerals to prevent degenerative disk diseases.
Technique usage - Using proper and good technique in sports (eg, when tackling an opponent in football, breathing properly when swimming).
Proper head positioning - Stretching the anterior muscles of the neck and chest (ie, the anterior scalenes, pectoralis muscles) and strengthening the scapular muscles.
Neck strengthening - Eccentric strengthening exercises, may be helpful in providing muscular control of the neck.
When to seek Medical Advice Medical advice is needed in these conditions :
Whenever a pain that spreads into the arm, neck, chest, and/or shoulders.
If there is a lack of coordination, especially in the hands.