Cervical radiculopathy, commonly known as “pinched” nerve, is caused by injury to the root of a spinal nerve. It is characterized by neck pain that radiates to the shoulder and the arms. As we grow older, the spinal discs bulge and lose height. The vertebrae come closer and the disc collapses forming bone spurs in order to stiffen the spine. In this process, the bone spurs make the foramen narrow and pinch the root of the nerve. If these changes are caused as a process of ageing, the condition may be referred to as arthritis or spondylosis.
What are the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy?
The pain caused by this condition is sharp and may even be felt as pin or needle prick. It may worsen with extending the neck or turning the head.
How is cervical radiculopathy diagnosed?
The diagnostic tests your doctor may advise include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography.
What are the treatment options?
Often, cervical radiculopathy is treated by non-surgical treatment methods such as use of soft collars, physical therapy, pain medications, or steroidal injections injected into the spine. If the conservative treatments are a failure or if the condition is severe, then your doctor may recommend surgical treatment. Surgery is done in order to create more space for the compressed nerves, to maintain stability of the spine and to provide proper alignment to the spine. The three types of procedures that can be done for cervical radiculopathy include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy
- Artificial disc replacement