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Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy, otherwise known as a pinched nerve in your neck, is a painful medical condition. The pain limits what you can do and occupies your mind from the moment you awake until you finally fall asleep at night. Since there are many causes of neck pain, you need an accurate diagnosis before treatment can begin. Get the best care in New Jersey at NU-Spine, a specialty medical practice in Edison. Dr. Branko Skovrlj is an experienced spinal specialist who finds the cause of your pain and addresses it with the most appropriate treatment. Don’t let cervical radiculopathy stop you; call NU-Spine today for an evaluation.

What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy refers to a spinal nerve that’s been pinched or impinged. There are three kinds of radiculopathy:

The only difference between them is the spine area where the affected nerve is: your neck, mid-back, or lower back. Your cervical spine — the top of your spine that extends above your shoulders — is the most flexible part of your whole spine. It allows you to turn your head side to side, up and down, and any combination in between.

The cervical spine is the least protected part of your spine. This part of your spine also supports your head, which weighs as much as a small bowling ball, about 11 pounds on average. Damage to any nerve root around the spine in your neck leads to a painful condition known as cervical radiculopathy or a pinched nerve.

What Is a Nerve Root?

A nerve root is a nerve that leaves your spinal column to go to the other parts of your body. In fact, eight pairs of nerve roots exit the cervical spinal cord through tiny openings between adjacent vertebrae. These cervical nerve roots enable you to control and feel your:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Fingers

When a nerve root becomes inflamed or damaged for any reason, you feel pain, numbness, noticeable weakness, or poor reflexes. A pinched nerve not only causes pain in your neck, but you may also feel it in your extremities too — wherever that nerve leads to.

Visit the spinal specialist at NU-Spine, The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute spine and pain center, for a definitive diagnosis. The highly experienced team under a leading spine neurosurgeon Dr. Branko Skovrlj uses the modern facility to diagnose and treat all kinds of spinal problems, from simple back pain to spondylosis.

Am I Suffering from Cervical Radiculopathy?

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy mostly affect just one side of the body. These signs include:

  • A pins-and-needles tingling
  • Numbness or weakness in the body areas served by affected nerve roots
  • Pain in your neck, shoulder, or arm
  • Headaches that you feel just above the back of your neck
  • Muscle weakness

You may be more at risk for this cervical spinal condition if you’re older than 60, smoke cigarettes, have diabetes, or do repetitive strenuous activities with your neck or head. At NU-Spine’s state-of-the-art treatment facility, your spinal specialist completes comprehensive diagnostic tests to identify the root cause of your neck pain. Then you’re treated for the underlying spine problem for long-lasting results.

What Are the Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy?

You get a pinched nerve in your neck due to degenerative changes to the vertebrae, a damaged vertebral disc, or a neck injury, particularly a compression injury. During your evaluation by our spinal specialist, the tests reveal the cause of your spinal issue. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, your doctor recommends the best cervical radiculopathy treatment for you.

Some common causes of cervical radiculopathy are:

  • A herniated disc. This occurs when a spinal disc ruptures and its contents leak out to press against a nerve root.
  • Spinal stenosis. When the bones surrounding your spinal canal push inward, the movement often pinches a nerve root, causing pain, numbness, or weak reflexes.
  • Degenerative disc disease. With age, your spinal discs weaken due to wear and tear. The result is the same as a herniated disc.
  • A slipped or bulging disc. When your spinal column shifts out of position because of a disc, this displacement presses nerve roots.
  • Trauma or sudden force as in an accident. Injury, including spinal fractures, can cause bone spurs to form, which pinch the nerve roots.
  • Spinal infections. The infection causes inflammation, which can compress nearby nerves.
  • Spinal tumor. Although rare, tumors grow on your spine, and they can cause cervical radiculopathy. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have persistent neck pain diagnosed.

What Is the Best Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy?

Dr. Skovrlj, a renowned spine surgeon, may order diagnostic tests after reviewing your medical history and performing a thorough physical exam. These diagnostic tests may include a Spurling’s test, MRI, x-rays, CT scan, or electromyography (EMG). Each case is different, so your spinal doctor must learn as much as he can about your case before starting treatment.

Your targeted cervical radiculopathy treatment option depends on your specific diagnosis, overall health, and other factors. Possible treatments include:

  • Rest or activity modification
  • Ice and/or heat therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Cervical traction with a restrictive collar
  • Pain medications
  • Cervical epidural steroid injections

Surgical options include anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, cervical disc replacement, or endoscopic posterior cervical foraminotomy/discectomy. Your doctor recommends the most appropriate surgical procedure for your unique case.

What’s the Best Spinal Treatment in New Jersey?

With the latest spinal diagnostics technology and up-to-date techniques, your doctor can find the underlying cause of your neck pain. If it’s due to a pinched nerve, you’re recommended the most effective treatment for your case. Dr. Skovrlj has experience with many cervical spine ailments, including cervical radiculopathy.

At the NU-Spine facility in Edison, NJ, Dr. Skovrlj offers a multi-disciplinary approach to cervical radiculopathy treatment. Treatment ranges from non-invasive spinal treatments to minimally invasive spine surgery. If you experience pain, numbness, and weakened muscle function in your neck, arms or shoulders, contact the practice today to schedule an evaluation.

Page Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Branko Skovrlj (Neurosurgeon / Spine surgeon) of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey

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