Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical Radiculopathy

Do you have discomfort and pain that seems to radiate from your neck downward? Many people don’t put enough attention on the pain signals they are receiving. This is especially true of those who have a condition known as cervical radiculopathy. This condition occurs when there is a pinch in the sac, called the disc, in the vertebrae. When this sac becomes compressed, it pinches the nerve endings and causes the nerve to instantly send a message to the brain that something is wrong. If you are feeling this type of tingling and traveling pain, it is important to schedule a consultation with our neck pain doctor in New York City for treatment and care.

Why Shouldn’t You Avoid This Appointment?

A pinched nerve doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it can be. Most of the time, the pain and symptoms of a pinched nerve, including the sensation that pain is traveling down into your shoulders and upper back, will come and go. However, the underlying problem here – the actual compression of the disc – doesn’t improve right away. Even if you feel okay, it is likely to come back. Many times, it will worsen over time as well. If you put off getting this neck pain checked out by our team of New York City spinal column doctors, you could be risking injury, more pain, and even debilitating conditions that may make it hard for you to do the things you enjoy.

What Can Be Done to Help You?

Realize that getting help for a condition like cervical radiculopathy is the first step in improving your mobility and functionality. Your goal here should be to improve the way your body moves and functions. You’ll want to work with us to find the best treatment for reducing that pinching and restoring normal spinal column positioning. There are various treatment options that may work for you. When you come in to see our team, we’ll talk about the options that can help to restore your quality of life.

Cervical radiculopathy is medical-speak for spinal nerve pain that travels (radiates) from the neck into part of the upper body.  Cervical radiculopathy is caused by a pinched nerve in your neck.  Common causes of cervical nerve compression include cervical disc herniation or spinal stenosis.

Nerve Compression

Overhead view of a cervical segment (C4)

Cervical nerves provide sensation, control function

There are eight pairs of cervical nerves.  The illustration above depicts a cervical nerve root on the left and right sides (green) of the spinal cord (yellow).  Where neck pain and symptoms radiate to depend on which spinal nerve root is compressed.  The nerve roots are numbered.  Cervical spinal nerve root number one begins below the base of the brain and is abbreviated C1.

Diagnostic examination

The purpose of the diagnostic examination is to locate the cause of your cervical radiculopathy. Our doctors combine information learned about your general health, lifestyle, past medical history, and symptoms with imaging or other test results to confirm your diagnosis.

Questions our Doctors may ask include:

  • When did upper body pain and symptoms start?
  • Did a particular event precede pain?
  • Have your radicular symptoms improved or worsened?
  • Does pain radiate into another part of your body?
  • On a scale of zero (no pain) to 10 (agony), what is your current pain level?
  • How does cervical radiculopathy affect your ability to work or perform ordinary activities of daily life?
  • Do pain and symptoms disrupt your sleep?
  • Other questions specifically related to you and your symptoms.

MRI is performed to evaluate your cervical spine.  Sometimes a x-ray is ordered.  Depending on the results of your examination and MRI, we may conduct electrodiagnostic studies.

Interventional treatment

We may combine non-operative interventional treatments to help resolve pain and improve mobility.  Interventional means to ‘intervene’ to stop and manage pain while you heal.

Treatments are administered in a step-wise way.  We believe less can be more, and the staff at Rehabilitation Medicine Center of New York applies that philosophy to our treatment approach.  For example, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and physical therapy may be as effective as a narcotic painkiller, but with fewer side effects.  However, no two patients are alike, and your cervical radiculopathy may require more aggressive care.

Interventional treatments may include: