Cervical radiculopathy also commonly referred to as a pinched nerve is when one or more of the nerves exiting the cervical spine, or the neck gets impinged or irritated. In the neck there are 8 cervical nerves which exit from various levels of the cervical spine through tiny holes called intervertebral foramen. The picture below shows the 7 cervical vertebra and the foramen in which the nerves exit from. Once the cervical nerves exit from the spine they branch off into various other nerves which supply the shoulder, arm and forearm muscles. Not only are these nerves responsible for strength and movement, but they are also responsible for the sensation you feel in your arms and fingers.
That being said what causes the cervical nerves and nerve roots to become irritated? Nerve root irritation or nerve irritation can be a result of many different causes. The most commonly seen are degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, disc bulges or herniations and inflammation. Although all of these causes are different in nature the signs and symptoms can present very similar if not the same.
Common signs and symptoms of nerve irritation or impingement include:
pain in neck, shoulder or arm
numbness and tingling in the arm, hand or fingers
sharp shooting pain in arm, hand or fingers
weakness in the upper extremity
electrical impulses travelling down the arm
burning or cool sensation
deep aches in the shoulder or arm
When a nerve root or nerve is irritated in any way one or more of these signs and symptoms can present. It generally begins as intermittent and then as time progresses becomes more constant. In many cases the signs and symptoms that are present in the arm follow a specific pattern which gives a better indication of which nerve or nerves are being impacted. However this is not always the case.
Cervical radiculopathy can be a very painful and debilitating condition if left untreated. The longer the nerves or nerve roots are irritated the more constant and painful the condition becomes. Numbness and tingling can begin to linger most of the day, weakness in the upper extremity can set in, stiffness of the neck and arm progress. No one should have to live in pain on a daily basis and treatments are available for such conditions.
Chiropractors are well versed in the human body and deal with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems on a daily basis. Chiropractors have a variety of tools they use to help treat cervical radiculopathy which include:
soft tissue therapy
spinal mobilzations of the thoracic and cervical spine
spinal adjustments of the thoracic and cervical spine
traction of the cervical spine
rehabilitation and patient specific exercises to increase the strength, mobility and function of the cervical and thoracic spine
education on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of the condition
Facts and statistics about cervical radiculopathy:
70% of people with cervical radiculopathy have shoulder pain
disc herniations are more common in younger individuals and are generally the result of a sports injury
the most common cause for cervical radiculopathy is inflammation of the joint capsule or surrounding muscles
If you are experiencing neck pain, shoulder pain, or pain and discomfort in the arm you may be experiencing signs and symptoms of cervical radiculopathy. You do not have to live with this pain, measures can be taken to decrease the pain and discomfort. Give us a call today and let us help you live pain free!