Arm Pain (Cervical Radiculopathy)

Arm Pain/Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is when a nerve root in the cervical spine (neck) becomes compressed or irritated, leading to pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the corresponding area of the body that the nerve supplies.

The most common symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include pain that radiates from the neck into the shoulder, arm, or hand, as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the same area.

What causes cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy is caused by compression or irritation of a nerve root in the cervical spine. This compression or irritation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Herniated or bulging discs: The discs in the cervical spine can become herniated or bulge, putting pressure on the nerve root.
  • Bone spurs: Bony growths on the vertebrae can develop due to osteoarthritis or wear and tear, causing nerve root compression.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Age-related wear and tear can cause the discs in the cervical spine to degenerate, reducing disc height and increasing pressure on the nerve root.
  • Spinal stenosis: Narrowing the spinal canal can pressure the nerve root.
  • Trauma or injury: Injuries to the neck or spine, such as whiplash, can cause cervical radiculopathy.
  • Tumours: Rarely, tumours in the cervical spine can cause compression of the nerve root.
  • Infections or inflammation: Infections or inflammation in the cervical spine can cause swelling and compression of the nerve root.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis can cause cervical spine inflammation, leading to nerve root compression.

Treatment for cervical radiculopathy

The treatment of cervical radiculopathy depends on the underlying cause of the condition and the severity of the symptoms. Conservative measures are usually the first line of treatment and may include:

  • Rest: Resting the affected area and avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility can help to reduce pain and prevent further injury. Your physical therapist may also use modalities like heat or ice therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to manage pain and promote healing.
  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or pain medications may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain.
  • Spinal injections: Corticosteroid injections into the affected area may help reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve symptoms.
  • Surgery may sometimes be necessary to relieve the compression on the nerve root. The specific surgical procedure will depend on the underlying cause of the cervical radiculopathy.

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe symptoms of cervical radiculopathy. Your surgeon can perform a physical examination and imaging tests to diagnose the condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Explore procedures for Arm Pain:

Nerve Root Injections (Transforaminal Epidural): Injections to deliver steroids directly to the affected nerve root to relieve pain and inflammation.

Explore more related spinal conditions:

Lumbar Disc Prolapse: Learn about the displacement of lumbar discs and its effects on spinal health.
Cervical Disc Prolapse
: Discover the nature of cervical disc displacement and its potential treatments.
Cervical Disc Myelopathy
: The compression of the spinal cord in the cervical spine and its neurological implications.