Understanding Cervical Radiculopathy: Symptoms and Treatment

Understanding Cervical Radiculopathy: Symptoms and Treatment

What is Cervical Radiculopathy?

When it comes to body pains, you cannot just “walk it off” especially if your doctor tells you that you have Cervical Radiculopathy. This type of condition occurs when the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae is compressed. This in turn causes pain and most of the time loss of sensation along the pathway of the nerves extending to the arm, hand and then fingers. This condition certainly cannot be shaken off with just a couple of pain killers. It might do the trick for quite some time but we all know that pain killers do not address the root of the problem.

To further understand the condition, read on.

What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

The most common causes include:

  • Ruptured disc
  • Degenerative changes in bones
  • Arthritis
  • Injuries that pressure nerve roots near the cervics

Age is also a factor that can cause CR. In young people, this tends to happen because of ruptured discs as a result of an injury or a trauma. In middle age people though this can be cause by degeneration of the bones which causes discs to put pressure on the nerve roots.

What are the Common Symptoms?

The usual pain that one feels from Cervical Radiculopathy is on the arm, the neck, chest, upper back and shoulders. This is accompanied with numbness or weakness in the fingers and hands. Other symptoms include lack of hand eye coordination. The pathway of the nerves are affected which means, in addition to the pain felt, it causes loss of sensation in the hands and arms as well.

What are the Types of Radiculopathy?

There are 4 Types of Radiculopathy:

  1. G5 Radiculopathy
  2. C6 Radiculopathy
  3. C7 Radiculopathy
  4. C8 Radiculopathy

Through an examination, a doctor will be able to determine what type of CR you have. Most common type is a C7 radiculopathy.

How to Treat Cervical Radiculopathy?

The usual first treatment that a doctor will advice you is immobilization. This will alleviate some of the pain for a short period of time. The goal is also to eliminate inflammation so that it can be properly treated. To help alleviate pain here are some tips that will help:

  1. Upgrade pillows. Switching to a more comfortable pillow is the first thing that you need to do. Do not use too many pillows. Do not an uncomfortable pillow as well. A special neck pillow that will give added support and lessen the stress on the neck.
  2. Pain killers. During the first few weeks of inflammation, pain killers can be the best solution to alleviate pain. This should be taken along with anti-inflammatory meds to lessen the swelling as well. This also includes corticosteroids and other pain medications.
  3. In some cases, collars are used to provide support around the neck when needed.
  4. Compression Sleeves. Pain felt on the arm can be alleviated with an elbow sleeve. The compression will help in the blood flow and lessen the numbness of the muscles.
  5. Exercises – After the inflammation has gone down, exercise and physical therapy is advised. This will help promote the mobilization and movement of the muscles and joints which will greatly reduce the pain.
  6. Massage Therapy – Massage is a good therapy to alleviate pain and relax the muscles which are affected.
  7. Heat and Ice Packs – Alternating cold and hot compress for about 15 minutes can alleviate the pain of Cervical Radiculopathy.
  8. Spinal Injections – This is usually done to prevent surgery. A series of sessions with a doctor will be helpful for cervical radiculopathy pain.
  9. Surgery – In some cases surgery is needed. The damage on the nerve and the spine which is caused by trauma or degeneration cannot be remedied by steroids and therapy anymore, then surgery is the solution to resort to.

To better understand your pain, consult a doctor. There are certain conditions which need to be diagnosed as early as possible to prevent further complications.

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