Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that can affect the upper cervical spine. It is a common diagnosis; however, many people with cervical radiculopathy struggle to manage their symptoms. In fact, it may take a long time for an affected individual to move around the neck and nearby body parts normally again. In this blog, we will discuss this potentially debilitating condition. We’ll also provide insights on how doctors diagnose cervical radiculopathy and which remedy options offer promising results.
What is Cervical Radiculopathy?
Simply put, cervical radiculopathy means nerve pinching or compression in the neck. It’s a fairly common problem due to the unique structure of the upper cervical bones. A slight change to the topmost vertebral bones can compress the C1 to C8 nerve roots and lead to tissue damage or malfunction. Here are some interesting facts about cervical radiculopathy:
- It is more common in men than in women.
- Older adults tend to develop cervical radiculopathy due to degenerative disc diseases.
- Younger patients with this condition often have a disc herniation, an injury, or neck bone shifting.
- Most cases of cervical radiculopathy heal independently, but some require additional care like upper cervical chiropractic.
Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy
Studies note that several things can trigger cervical radiculopathy. As mentioned above, it can develop due to the degeneration of the cushioning material between the bones of the cervical spine. The disc spaces are responsible for cushioning the spinal bones to reduce friction and premature wear and tear. When a disc begins deteriorating, it can bulge and pinch nearby tissues such as the cervical nerve roots.
Another potential root cause of cervical radiculopathy is neck trauma. Blunt force on the neck displaces the bones and causes unnecessary mechanical strain on the nerve tissues. Notably, besides these two, studies found that the condition can also stem from the following:
- Neck infections
- Neurological disorders (such as multiple sclerosis)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Cervical disc herniation
- Spinal stenosis
Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy
The condition primarily affects the neck and proximal body parts like the shoulders and arms. It can also cause slight discomfort on the upper back and one side of the face. Some patients diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy also report other symptoms like:
- Numbness or tingling of the hands and fingers
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Muscle weakness on one side of the body
- Lost or reduced reflexes on the arms and legs
- Limited neck movement due to the intense pain caused by the affected nerves
What It Feels Like to Have Cervical Radiculopathy
It can be excruciating initially, especially if you don’t know what caused your condition. However, once you successfully remove the pressure on your cervical spine, the affected nerve roots can potentially heal and recover. By then, you can increase your neck’s range of motion and lead a happier life free from sudden bouts of neck pain and the rest of the enumerated symptoms above.
Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy
Doctors diagnosed cervical radiculopathy with the help of diagnostic procedures like MRI scans of the upper cervical spine. You might also need to undergo the Spurling test – a specialized technique that can help healthcare professionals detect cervical nerve root compression.
If you have a throbbing neck cause significant discomfort for more than two weeks or experience tingling, numbness, weakness, or trouble turning your head and neck, you likely have compressed nerve tissues. We strongly recommend consulting with a neurologist or your go-to general practitioner to gauge the severity of your nerve root pinching problem.
Remedies for Cervical Radiculopathy
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for cervical radiculopathy. The condition usually takes months or years to improve. However, there are tons of remedies available that can help you get through this challenging process. Two examples of the most trusted source of pinched nerve relief are as follows:
If your condition is severe enough to cause damage to nerves or muscles deep within your neck, surgery may be the best option for you. There are two types of surgical treatment for cervical radiculopathy: spinal fusion and decompression surgery.
Spinal fusion involves using screws or rods to stabilize your spine after a failed back operation or after an injury has caused your vertebrae to become damaged or dislocated. On the one hand, decompression surgery applies to cases with excessive pressure on the nerve roots due to health complaints like osteoarthritis or trauma.
Both types of surgery come with risks, so it would help to consult your doctor to know which option might provide you with ideal results.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
Upper cervical chiropractic has shown to help relieve symptoms of cervical radiculopathy when used alongside other therapies such as PT (physical therapy) and lifestyle changes. This care plan can help improve your symptoms by improving your body’s ability to heal.
Upper cervical chiropractors adjust the C1 and C2 bones to help alleviate the pressure on the cervical nerve roots. The chiropractic adjustments also help patients restore health and wellness by ensuring that the brain transmits messages to various body parts with no interruptions.
Chiropractic adjustments can also help reduce inflammation in the area and restore blood flow, which improves healing and removes any obstructions that may be causing your body stress or strain.
If you want to get familiar with upper cervical chiropractic and its role in addressing painful conditions, we recommend connecting with an upper cervical doctor. Visit our extensive directory of upper cervical chiropractic doctors so you can begin your journey to a more pain-free and carefree life!