What is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Occurs when the nerve root coming off the spinal cord becomes compressed. The compression can occur for various reasons such as a disc herniation, arthritic changes, or decreased disc height in the neck region. The cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae that is separated by a gel like disc. This disc provides shock absorption for the spine. Spinal nerve roots extend from the spinal cord and branch out off to specific locations in the arms. The spinal nerves send signals to our muscles for movement as well as sensation.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, hand, or fingers.
  • Pain described as "pins and needles" or a "popping sensation" in the neck.
  • A general dull ache or numbness along the nerve pathway.
  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand.
  • Pain that improves when the arm is lifted over and behind the head relieving the tension on the spinal nerve.

How can a Physical Therapist help?

Physical therapy is an effective treatment for cervical radiculopathy, and in many cases can resolve the symptoms. The Physical Therapist can help resolve the symptoms by:

  • Pain management with the use of ice, heat, and other modalities.
  • Manual therapy techniques to relieve pressure on the neck and relax the muscles.
  • Posture education
  • Strengthening exercises for the neck, upper back, and shoulders to increase stability of the spine.
Wednesday the 5th. Copyright 2012, Three Rivers Hospital