Cervical radiculopathy – What is it, and how can we treat it?
In our neck we have a bunch of nerves (Brachial plexus) that exit from the gaps between the vertebrae. These nerves by themselves supply sensation to a certain region of our arm or works together with the other nerves to innervate the muscles, causing movement of our upper limb.
Cervical radiculopathy refers to a “pinched nerve” in the neck. Symptoms can result from chemical or mechanical irritation as the jelly like substance from inside the disc comes into direct contact with the nerve, or bone spurs that can develop as we age, causing inflammation and decreasing neural communication. When the nerve is irritated/impinged, it interrupts the flow of information through the nerve. Resulting in pain, weakness and the characteristic “pins and needles” sensation we are all familiar with.
Commonly, patients will present with arm symptoms that are far worse than neck pain, this is due to irritation of the nerves that supply the arm.
How is it treated?
Generally speaking, the prognosis (the likelihood of recovery) for cervical radiculopathy is favorable and can be successfully managed conservatively through different modalities.
Some of these treatment options include:
- Manual therapy – To addressing spasm of surrounding musculature, joint stiffness and decrease sensitivity of the nerve.
- Exercise – To strengthen and desensitize relevant muscles and decrease neural sensitivity.
- Education – What it is, what’s causing the symptoms, and expectation from treatment/recovery, as well as things for you to do and avoid.
- Referral – It is important for us to monitor progress through treatment, and to refer if necessary.
As Chiropractors we are well trained and up to date with the latest clinical guidelines to put you in the best position possible for recovery. If you have been diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy/disc herniation in the neck, or currently have symptoms similar, book an appointment with us for a chiropractic assessment and advice on recommended treatment options available to you.
Co-authored by Dylan Long & Grant Lehmann