There are eight nerves in the cervical spine that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body—specifically to the skin, internal organs and muscles. These nerves have an important job and, when functioning appropriately, allow us to move freely or identify pain or injury. However, when these nerves become damaged due to pressure or irritation, the body may be affected with painful and uncomfortable symptoms of radiculopathy.
What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical neuropathy, also known as cervical radiculopathy, is a general term for the symptoms caused by the irritation of a nerve root in the spinal cord of the neck. These nerve roots branch out of the spine to provide sensation and muscle function throughout the upper portion of the body. This means radiculopathy can manifest itself in multiple ways.
What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?
There are several conditions that may cause radiculopathy, as it is the result of nerve compression or irritation. Some conditions that may cause cervical neuropathy include:
- Cervical Spinal Stenosis – If the facet joints in the back of the neck tighten, it may result in compression of the nerve roots.
- Degenerative Disc Disease – When spinal discs between the vertebrae thin and weaken over time and collapse putting pressure on nearby nerves.
- Herniated Disc – When inner disc material leaks out beyond its natural perimeter, surrounding nerves may become irritated or compressed.
While these are some of the more common causes, there may be other occurrences, such as trauma or injury, that lead to the pain and discomfort of radiculopathy.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
Radiculopathy may result in a multitude of symptoms in different areas of the body, depending on which nerves are affected. However, common symptoms include numbness, pain, weakness and tingling, along with hot or cold sensations. These symptoms may also be paired with a headache or neck pain. A spine specialist can determine which nerves are affected through physical exam and imaging. Some common symptoms associated with nerve compression at a particular cervical level include:
- Nerves damaged in the C6 level will produce symptoms in the biceps, wrists, thumb and index finger.
- Nerves damaged in the C7 level will produce symptoms in the neck, middle finger and triceps.
- Nerves afflicted in the C8 level will produce symptoms in the fourth and fifth fingers, often with impaired mobility.
Who’s at Risk for Cervical Radiculopathy?
Anyone may develop cervical radiculopathy, yet some people are more at risk than others. Overall, this condition is most commonly caused by aging and the degeneration of discs in the spine. However, people at high risk for radiculopathy also include those who are overweight, have a degenerative disease, have poor posture, lift weight repetitively and/or improperly, and those who smoke.
The MISI Approach to Radiculopathy Treatment
If physical therapy and medication have proven to be unsuccessful in treating pain and symptoms related to radiculopathy, it may be wise to consider minimally invasive treatment at MISI. Traditional surgical methods for treating radiculopathy can leave patients in recovery for months. The doctors at MISI take a different approach and utilize minimally invasive techniques.
This means, with only a small incision, we are able to relieve pressure or irritation on the cervical nerves, alleviating discomfort and pain. Our patients can oftentimes leave our facility within 24 hours after their surgery—with nothing more than a simple bandage over their incision. For more information about our approach to minimally invasive cervical radiculopathy treatment, visit our treatment page here.
Are You Suffering from Cervical Radiculopathy?
If you believe you are experiencing painful, uncomfortable symptoms due to cervical radiculopathy, MISI may be able to provide you with the relief you’ve been waiting for. Schedule a consultation with us today.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.