What is cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy is characterized by pain that radiates from the neck to the arms. The pain is the result of any kind of injury or condition that aggravates a nerve – such as a pinched nerve – in the cervical spine.

(Note: Some patients have both neck and arm pain related to their pinched nerves, but some only have neck pain. For more information, please visit our Neck and Arm Pain page.)

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What are the causes of cervical radiculopathy?

  • Muscle strain is a common cause of cervical radiculopathy, but it is usually temporary in nature
  • Degenerative changes (These can cause changes in the vertebrae as well, which often appear as bony spurs)
  • The natural aging process
  • Genetics
  • Wearing out of the discs
Health problem at office work

How is cervical radiculopathy diagnosed?

The important factors that suggest the need for more specific evaluation or treatment are the severity of the pain, the duration of the symptoms, and/or weakness in the neck or limbs.

There are several cervical radiculopathy tests including, X-rays, computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans and MRIs to evaluate the source of problems.

Dr. Ahuja and staff perform imaging procedures at The Brain and Spine Imaging Center, our state-of-the-art imaging facility in Franklin, Wisconsin.

Further, more invasive testing can include:

  • Nerve conduction studies, which measure nerve and muscle function.
  • Myelograms, a test where contrast dye is injected into the sack around the spinal cord followed by imaging studies to see what areas might be causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
  • Discograms, in which a contrast dye is injected into the disc itself to determine whether it is herniated and to what extent the disc might be contributing to whatever symptoms are present.

Is surgery necessary for cervical radiculopathy?

Surgical options include for cervical radiculopathy, but are not limited to, discectomy to remove a portion of a disc, or fusion, which removes a disc and replaces it with bone chips and/or metal instruments to keep the area from bending.

Only a physician who knows and understands your specific ailments can decide whether  surgery is necessary.

Dr. Arvind Ahuja is a neurosurgeon uniquely specialized in surgery for the spine and is deeply committed to the wellbeing of all of his patients in the Kenosha-Racine area.

Dr. Ahuja will take the time to assess your symptoms, answer your questions, and provide you with the full range of treatments available for your specific needs.

Neurosurgery and Endovascular Associates want to recommend the most non-invasive treatment option possible.

What are non-surgical treatment options for cervical radiculopathy?

Potential treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Activity modification
  • Use of medications such as anti-inflammatories, pain medication, and/or muscle relaxants

Simple, conservative interventions for cervical radiculopathy can be as basic as instruction on posture and range of motion exercises aimed at minimizing further irritation to the nerve roots and strengthening the neck.

Another conservative treatment is cervical traction where the head is pulled up or pushed away from the shoulders for short periods of time each day.

You can call Neurosurgery and Endovascular Associates to discuss your full range of options, or visit our FAQ page.