Cervical radiculopathy originates in the region of the neck or upper back. The word "cervical" refers to the seven vertebrae at the top of the backbone, also known as the cervical spine. The word "radiculopathy" refers to a variety of symptoms - which can include pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that feel like they "travel" or reverberate from one part of the body to another.
Cervical radiculopathy causes
Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by a number of spinal conditions that lead to irritated or impinged nerve roots in the spinal column, including a herniated disc, a bulging disc, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, foraminal stenosis, and others. The symptoms can be felt at the location of the irritated nerve root in the neck, and pain also can radiate through the shoulders and down to the arms, hands, and fingers. Between the seven vertebrae of the cervical spine (C 1-7), eight sets of nerve roots exit the spinal canal and send electrical impulses, or messages, to particular regions of the body. The area affected by cervical radiculopathy symptoms depends on the location of the impinged or irritated nerve root.
The nerve roots in the cervical spine are abbreviated C1-C8. Each set is responsible for providing sensation and movement to a different region:
C1, C2 - Head
C3, C4 - Diaphragm
- C5 - Upper body
C6 - Wrist and biceps
C7 - Triceps
C8 - Hands
A patient who suffers from cervical radiculopathy symptoms should consult a physician for diagnosis. Generally, a course of conservative treatment is prescribed to help manage the upper back or neck pain associated with cervical radiculopathy. This can include exercises to strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles, pain medicine, injections, and rest.
If conservative treatment is not enough to manage chronic back or neck pain, a doctor might suggest surgery as an option. We offer an alternative to traditional surgery with an array of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to help you rediscover a life without pain. Contact us to learn more about cervical radiculopathy.