Beejal Y. Amin MD

Cervical Radiculopathy

What is cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy refers to symptoms resulting from compression or irritation of the spinal nerve root in the neck. This injury can also be referred to as a “pinched nerve.” Radiculopathy can occur in any part of the spine, but it is most common in the neck (cervical) or low back (lumbar). In radiculopathy, the nerve root in the spine is the site of injury, but the symptoms may manifest in a completely separate location, such as the forearm. The term “radiculopathy” focuses on the nerve root since “radix” means “root.”

What are the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy?

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include sharp pain that travels from the neck down the arm and sometimes into the hand. Weakness, numbness and tingling in the arms or fingers are also common symptoms. Symptoms may be aggravated by certain movements in the neck and may include aching or sharp, radiating pain when the neck is extended backward.

What are the causes of cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy is caused by a nerve becoming inflamed or compressed. Compression of the nerve may be due to a cervical disc herniation, bone spurs, thickening of ligaments or osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms of cervical myelopathy?

The symptoms of cervical myelopathy may gradually worsen over time. These symptoms include:

  • Clumsiness in the arms, hands or fingers
  • Loss of manual dexterity (and difficulty with fine finger movements)
  • Pain or stiffness in the neck
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands
  • Balance difficulty
  • Loss of control of bowel or bladder

What are the treatment options for cervical radiculopathy?

Non-surgical Treatment

Cervical radiculopathy often improves with non-surgical treatment within days or weeks. Common conservative treatments include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Avoidance of activities that aggravate the condition

Surgical Treatment

If symptoms do not improve with conservative treatment, then Dr. Amin may recommend surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove compression (pinching) of the affected nerve. Based on the patient’s imaging, Dr. Amin will recommend one of three surgical procedures for treating cervical radiculopathy.