Cervical nerve roots — treating issues

Cervical nerve roots are where nerves first branch off the spinal cord, exiting between the seven cervical vertebrae in the neck. Existing in pairs, nerve roots are responsible for sending and receiving motor and sensory signals throughout the body. These nerve roots can become compressed as a result of age-related deterioration which narrows their exit points, called foramina. This compression can cause a range of debilitating symptoms, including neck pain.

Nerve compression is problematic because the nervous system is essential for normal function, including pain reception, muscle contraction, reflex and flexion and organ function. The eight cervical nerve roots, known as the C1 through C8 nerve roots, send information between the brain and the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

This is why radiating symptoms can occur in these areas in addition to local pain. If an issue related to the cervical nerve roots is seriously affecting your life — taking you away from the activities and people you love — getting information can be a great first step in getting the help you deserve.

How cervical nerve root compression happens

One of the largest contributors to the compression of cervical nerve roots is every day wear combined with the aging process. The upper spine in particular must support the weight of the head while remaining flexible enough for basic movement. This makes the moving and connecting parts of the spine — such as the discs and joints — prone to deterioration. Conditions such as herniated or bulging discs and arthritis of the joints can all contribute to the spinal narrowing that compresses the nerve roots.

Common symptoms of a compressed cervical nerve root can include:

  • Local, chronic neck pain
  • Shooting or electrical pain radiating along the pinched nerve
  • Muscle weakness in the shoulders, arms and elbows
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingertips
  • Loss of reflex or motor function

Treatment options

In the event that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your physician. In many cases, the pinching of spinal nerve roots can be managed with a conservative treatment plan including anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, physical therapy and the application of heat/cold. If a full course of recommended treatment is not bringing relief and you are considering surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication.

For a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to see if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, contact a dedicated Spine Care Consultant today.