Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a “pinched nerve,” is a painful condition that involves nerve irritation due to damage on a cervical disc of your spine.

Overview and Symptoms

Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a "pinched nerve," occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. This may cause pain or numbness that travels into the shoulder, down the arm and into the hand. It may also include muscle weakness. Damage may be caused by degeneration and/or traumatic injury.

Common symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include:

  • Numbness or pain along the arms and into the hands
  • Pain in the chest, upper back, shoulders, and neck areas
  • Lack of hand coordination
  • Tingling sensation in the fingers and hands

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you have experienced ruptured spinal discs, lumbar radiculopathy, arthritis, or any degenerative bone diseases in the past, you are at a higher risk of developing cervical radiculopathy. Older patients or patients who have recently been in traumatic events such as a car accident are also at a higher risk of developing cervical radiculopathy. A physician may conduct a Spurling’s test—turning the patient's head to the affected side while extending and applying downward pressure to the top of the patient's head—to assess if manual manipulation will reduce or increase pain and other physical symptoms. This test helps to confirm cervical radiculopathy.

There are many treatment options for cervical radiculopathy, ranging from noninvasive to surgical procedures. The course of treatment is highly dependent on the case of the individual, and will be determined with the help of a physician.

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