If you've been experiencing pain or numbness in your neck and are wondering about the cause, it might be radiculopathy.
Radiculopathy develops when a nerve in your spine becomes compressed, irritated, or inflamed. Depending on which nerve it affects, you can have pain, numbness, and other uncomfortable symptoms in various parts of your body.
When it concerns the neck, it's cervical radiculopathy. This form of the condition affects the nerves in the cervical spine or the upper part of your spinal column.
At HAAS Spine & Orthopaedics in Glendale, Santa Ana, and Upland, California, Stepan Kasimian, MD, can help you get to the bottom of the pain and numbness in your neck and determine if it's radiculopathy.
Here, he explains common causes and symptoms of radiculopathy and what you can do about it.
If you have cervical radiculopathy, you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may come and go, depending on factors like your posture or your typical activities. Sometimes, you may feel the symptoms in a different area than where the nerve is compressed, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause.
Cervical radiculopathy can have several causes:
As we get older, our spinal discs can dry out and lose their flexibility, making them more susceptible to injury and conditions such as cervical radiculopathy.
A herniated disc occurs when the soft material inside your spinal disc leaks and irritates the nearby nerve. It's typically caused by wear and tear over time or by a sudden injury, like lifting something heavy.
This condition causes the spaces within your spine to narrow, putting pressure on the nerves.
Whiplash is one example of an injury that can damage a spinal disc, compressing your nerves and causing cervical radiculopathy.
If you suspect you might have cervical radiculopathy, Dr. Kasimian performs a physical exam to check for any signs of nerve irritation or compression.
During the exam, he's likely to ask you to move your neck, shoulders, and arms in specific ways to see if it triggers your symptoms. He might also perform tests to check your muscle strength and reflexes, and determine whether you’ve lost any sensation in your neck, arms, and hands.
The good news is that there are several treatment options for radiculopathy.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain. We also administer steroid injections, which can relieve short-term pain by reducing inflammation around the affected nerve.
In more severe cases, or if other treatments don't provide enough relief, we may recommend surgery to remove the source of the nerve compression, such as a herniated disc, or to create more space for the nerves by fusing the affected vertebrae.
You don’t have to live with pain and numbness in your neck. It could be a sign of radiculopathy or some other medical condition. Please schedule an appointment with us online or call 818-500-9286 today to get to the bottom of it.