Causes & symptoms of cervical radiculopathy

What is cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy is defined as a cervical spinal nerve root (a nerve root located in the neck area of the spine) that has become compressed and is sending radicular, or radiating, symptoms throughout the neck and upper extremities. A cervical spinal nerve root can become compressed for a variety of reasons, the majority of which involve degenerative changes to bone or tissue over time. Examples include herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs and spinal stenosis, among others. When the nerve root becomes compressed, it sends distress signals along the entire path of its nerve branches, which is why an impinged nerve in the neck often translates into pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness as far away as the hands and fingers.

Conservative treatments for cervical radiculopathy

Nonsurgical, or conservative, treatments are usually effective at mitigating symptoms of cervical radiculopathy. After your physician makes a diagnosis, he or she will likely prescribe some combination of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pain relief medication
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Gentle stretching
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Corticosteroid injections

Spine surgery for cervical radiculopathy

If your symptoms do not improve despite several weeks or months of conservative treatments, your physician may suggest that you consider spine surgery. If you have been diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy and have been recommended for surgery, it’s important to research all of your surgical options. Traditional open spine surgery is a highly invasive procedure that involves one or more large incisions in the neck and/or throat and trauma to the soft tissues of the cervical spine, which often leads to a long and difficult rehabilitation.

However, traditional open spine surgery is no longer the only option to treat cervical radiculopathy. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures to treat a wide range of degenerative spine conditions. Our minimally invasive spine surgeries are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures, and many of our patients are up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^ To learn more about minimally invasive surgery for cervical radiculopathy, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.