C1 – C8 nerve roots

The cervical spine is made of seven vertebrae that make up the neck, numbered as the C1 – C7 vertebrae. Each vertebra is associated with a nerve root, called the C1 – C8 nerve roots. These eight nerve roots are integral structures in the flow of sensory information in the upper body.

Function of the C1 – C8 nerve roots

Situated among the C1 – C7 vertebrae, these paired nerve structures branch off the upper spinal cord before traveling throughout the rest of the body. These cervical nerves are responsible for functions like muscle control, pain reception and breathing, making them some of the most important nerve roots in the body.

Because they are situated near the vertebrae of the neck, the cervical nerve roots are at a heightened risk for damage due to the natural deterioration of the neck — deterioration which is the result of the neck’s flexibility and constant burden of supporting the head over several years. For this reason, neck pain and other symptoms are common results of cervical nerve root compression.

Causes of C1 – C8 nerve root compression

In a healthy spine, the brain transmits signals along the spinal cord, through the cervical nerve roots, and along the nerve pathways throughout the neck and arms.

If one of the C1 – C8 nerve roots is interfered with or compressed, a number of symptoms can develop — both locally and along the nerve to other parts of the body. This compression results from another piece of tissue pinching or generally irritating the nerve. This compression can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Deterioration of the cervical spine caused by the normal aging process
  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Facet disease or other disorders affecting the function of the vertebral joints
  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Injury

These common conditions all can lead to varying degrees of cervical nerve compression, which, depending on the location of the nerve roots, can lead to many symptoms, including:

  • Localized neck pain
  • Pain radiating along a nerve
  • Unexpected muscle weakness in the shoulders, elbows and wrists
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers

Treatment for C1 – C8 nerve compression

Treatment for compressed C1 – C8 nerve roots usually only requires a conservative course of action. Anti-inflammatory medication, heat and ice therapy and low-impact exercises like yoga are all effective treatments for many individuals.

If your pain continues despite several weeks or months of this treatment plan, spine surgery may be recommended. The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck surgery. Because our procedures are performed in an outpatient surgery center, our patients have a lower risk of infection than patients who opt for hospital-based traditional open neck surgery.

To relieve the pressure on a cervical nerve root, our surgeons may recommend a minimally invasive decompression or stabilization procedure, though most of our patients are recommended for a decompression surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today and let us help you on your journey toward pain relief.