Give Your Radiating Pain A Name: Cervical Radiculopathy

Authored by: Dr. Ehsan Jazini

If you have tingling or numbness in the arms, it is important to specifically identify where you are experiencing pain to better understand where it is originating. If you are experiencing numbness and tingling radiating down the entire arm, often accompanied by pain around the shoulder blade, shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers, this may be related to a pinching of nerves in the neck. Some people will find that placing their hand above their head will take pressure off the nerve and relieve some of their arm and shoulder pain. Others find that tilting their head one way or the other causes the pain to improve or worsen. This may be a sign of nerve irritation due to a disc herniation or arthritic spur in the neck. These are symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.

What is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Cervical Radiculopathy occurs when the nerves in your neck become compressed or irritated, and as the nerves travel down to your upper extremities they can cause radiating pain. This medical term is also commonly referred to as a pinched nerve.

Five Common Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy:

When the compressed nerves start to lose blood supply, an inflammatory cascade happens. This leads to the following pain and discomfort:

  • pain and burning in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers
  • headaches
  • weakness
  • numbness
  • tingling

What Type of Conditions Cause Cervical Radiculopathy?

The compressed nerves are often caused by wear and tear to the spine. The conditions listed below cause the nerves to become pinched:

  • disc herniation
  • disc collapse
  • disc degeneration
  • instability in facet joints
  • overgrown facet joints
  • facet cysts
  • facet arthritis
  • facet bone spurs

What Are The Treatment Options for Cervical Radiculopathy?

For the majority of patients cervical radiculopathy can be treated with anti-inflammatory, rest, and effective physical therapy. While some patients may require a cortisone injection to help calm the inflammation. In a minority of patients who do not get relief with the above options, or who have progressive neurologic decline (such as weakness), there are many advanced surgical options available to treat them. Two of the most common surgeries used to treat a cervical radiculopathy are an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) and, an Anterior Cervical Disc Replacement (ACDR) which preserves range of motion in the neck.

At Virginia Spine Institute, our unique belief is to treat our patients with the most comprehensive care possible. Our team will coordinate an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan to restore you to a full and active lifestyle. Schedule an appointment with us and start your recovery from pain.

Dr. Ehsan Jazini is a board certified spine surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute. 

He has been the first in the nation, and in the world, to perform advanced surgical techniques in cervical disc replacement, augmented reality (AR) spine surgery, and robotic spine surgery. Dr. Jazini was the first in the world to perform Augmented Reality guided personalized spine implant surgery using artificial intelligence. As a leading published author in the field of spine surgery, Dr. Jazini was selected as the Editor in Chief of The Spine Health Journal for the National Spine Health Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Jazini.

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