Have you been experiencing tingling, pain, numbness, and weakness in your hand? Does it get worse when you move your neck in certain directions? If you answered yes to both of these questions, there’s a good chance you are suffering from cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy is a tricky condition to deal with. It can cause individuals to withdraw from activities due to pain and disability, significantly lowering one’s quality of life. If you’re suffering from cervical radiculopathy, continue reading to learn more about the condition and discover how physiotherapy can help you.
What Is a Cervical Radiculopathy?
Let’s break this down and start by defining the individual terms of cervical radiculopathy.
“Cervical” refers to the uppermost portion of the spine or the neck area. The cervical spine is less hearty than the thoracic and lumbar regions, but it affords us tons of motion. In turn, this allows us to move our necks with ease (under normal circumstances).
“Radiculopathy ” refers to an injury to the nerve roots or the part of our nerves closest to the spinal cord. When a clinician describes symptoms as “radicular,” he or she is generally referring to those that radiate from the nerve root and affect our arms or legs in some way.
When we put these two terms together, we arrive at a disorder in which the nerve roots coming from the uppermost portion of the spine are irritated and are causing symptoms to develop in the arms.
What Causes a Cervical Radiculopathy?
As with almost any condition, there are a variety of factors that can lead to cervical radiculopathy. Typically, this disorder will occur when a patient is playing a sport or lifting something heavy. However, these aren’t the only causes.
Cervical radiculopathies may also occur due to disc pathology, age-related degeneration, injured or tight neck muscles, or simply moving the “wrong” way.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy tends to cause symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand or arm. Usually, these symptoms will occur only on one side, potentially worsening or improving based on the patient’s neck position.
How Are Cervical Radiculopathies Diagnosed?
While imaging, such as X-rays and MRIs, may be necessary to rule out other conditions, most clinicians can diagnose cervical radiculopathy with physical tests and patient history alone.
For instance, there are a few tests involving active movement, testing reflexes and muscle strength and other methods that can help a clinician arrive at a diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy. During your physiotherapy appointment, your clinician may be able to determine this during your initial assessment.
How Are Cervical Radiculopathies Treated?
In rare cases, surgery may be needed to effectively treat cervical radiculopathy. These types of surgeries may include a discectomy or a laminectomy. However, the vast majority of patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy can find complete relief of symptoms through physiotherapy.
Your physiotherapist performs a thorough initial assessment, ruling out other diagnoses and taking a thorough collection of your history, to determine if you are, in fact, experiencing cervical radiculopathy. From there, your treatment plan may consist of stretches, strengthening exercises, manual therapy, and other modalities. Depending on the severity of your pain or condition, treatment time may vary.
If you’re experiencing neck pain or cervical radiculopathy, our team at Turramurra Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy is here to help. Our physiotherapists are passionate about improving your health and wellness. Book your appointment online with us today or call 9144 1510 to make an appointment or have a chat with one of our physiotherapists.