Many people deal with pain and weakness in their necks, shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. Though many people just try to deal with it, the truth is that it could be a sign of a serious problem. Cervical radiculopathy is rare but it can be a real problem.
What is Cervical Radiculopathy?
When a nerve root in the cervical spine becomes inflamed or damaged, it can really affect a person’s neurologic function. This condition is called cervical radiculopathy.
What are the Symptoms?
People who suffer from cervical radiculopathy may have the following symptoms:
- Numbness in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers
- Altered reflexes
- Weakness in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers
- Many complain of pins and needles feeling, which can range from a general achiness all the way to constant pain that radiates throughout the person’s arms, hands, and fingers
What Causes This Condition?
Though the whole mechanism isn’t quite understood when it comes to cervical radiculopathy, it is usually caused by damage to a nerve root. Bone spurs can damage roots. Herniated discs can also do the same. This can occur over time or due to an injury. Tumors could also cause cervical radiculopathy.
There are some movements or head positions that can make the symptoms worse.
Who suffers from cervical radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy occurs more in the following people:
- Men are more commonly diagnosed than women.
- White people are affected more than other races.
- It is also more common in older people who suffer from spinal degeneration.
- In younger people, they may suffer from cervical radiculopathy due to an injury.
- Once you have suffered from a cervical radiculopathy, you are more likely to have another episode.
Certain habits can make a person more susceptible to cervical radiculopathy. These include:
- Diving into a pool
- Lifting objects that are really heavy
- Driving equipment that vibrates your body
How Is Cervical Radiculopathy Diagnosed?
When you go to the doctor, you will be asked about your pain, where it is located, and how it feels. Then, your doctor will want you to move your head and neck around to see how well you can move it. He or she will also look for any tenderness, swelling, and muscle spasms. He or she may also test for numbness, your reflexes, and your strength.
Your doctor will probably order an x-ray of your neck. Though you won’t be able to see a herniated disc, it will help to see how much degeneration you have in your neck. You will be able to see if any spaces are narrow and if you have any bone spurs.
Then, you will likely have to have a MRI. This will show what the soft tissue looks like around your spine. Your doctor can see the nerve and your discs.
Most of the time, cervical radiculopathy is self-limiting and it will go away on its own. However, many people try to rest their neck and treat it with ice and heat. Over-the-counter medications can often help with the pain. Steroids may be used to help with inflammation. Physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and activity modification can also help.
If your cervical radiculopathy continues to worsen, even with treatment, you may need to get more help. Left untreated, you may have permanent damage to your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. In fact, you may become paralyzed if you don’t do anything about it. At this point, you may need to think about having surgery.
Though surgery can be scary, it will receive pressure from the bone spur or herniated disk. After healing, you will feel much better.
What Can You Do?
If you are struggling with weakness and pain in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers, you should contact us today. We are proud to help many people who live with pain on a regular basis.