Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy develops when a nerve in the neck gets irritated or compressed at the region where the nerve branches away from the spinal cord. This pressure and irritation may cause pain, numbness or weakness that can radiate into the shoulder and down the arm.

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy can include sensory issues such as numbness or tingling occurring in the fingers and hands or motor issues causing muscle weakness, lack of coordination and loss of reflexes. Patients often describe a deep ache or burning in the neck or upper back with shooting electrical pain from the neck that radiates down into the arm.

Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy

Acute injury or trauma such as an auto accident. Heavy lifting, bending, twisting or pulling which then compresses and inflames the nerve root. Degenerative changes can also cause spinal stenosis or narrowing, pinched nerves and disc herniation. For others, cervical radiculopathy comes on gradually from repetitive motion injuries such as frequently turning of the head due to work, driving or daily activities.

Depending of the location of the affected cervical nerve roots will determine the referring pain that can radiate either into the shoulder, upper arm, lower arm, hand or fingers.

Treatment

In the acute phase it is important to decrease inflammation and pain, utilize gentle cervical traction, homeopathic injection therapies and neck stabilize techniques. Frequently, Dr. Nathan Eldredge will use cervical manipulation on spinal segments adjacent to the injured area first to relieve pain and muscle guarding. Patients may use short-term NSAIDs during this phase, which is appropriate. However, it’s important to note that NSAIDs can actually slow down the healing process and should be taken in moderation. As an alternative or in addition to, we at Alta Mountain chiropractic recommend natural therapies that induce the body’s natural healing response such as supplements, Prolozone and Homeopathic injections, to help support and speed up the healing process.

Dr. Nathan Eldredge uses chiropractic adjustments, manipulations and decompression to treat restricted spinal mobility. These therapies are intended to help restore movement, relieve pressure on the nerves and subdue muscle spasms.

Once the pain and inflammation have been addressed the patient may then be given some simple stretches and exercises to do at home in between chiropractic appointments. These exercises are meant to increase range of motion, stretch sore and tight muscles and strengthen the area. The exercises should be performed without pain, although some degree of soreness is to be expected after exercise.

If the pain was initiated by trauma, applying ice or cold packs within the first 48 hours is acceptable for severe pain only. Subsequently applying heat for 15 minutes once per hour is helpful in the healing process as well as in the reduction of inflammation and muscle spasms.

Massage therapy aids in decreasing pain, restoring range of motion and increasing flexibility within the neck and shoulders.

A cervical pillow may be suggested if the patient is having trouble sleeping due to discomfort.

Home cervical traction units are available for rent as needed.

Staying active such as walking or biking as tolerated is recommended.

Imaging such as X-rays or MRI may or may not be needed depending on the case and presentation of the patient. Dr. Nathan Eldredge will do a thorough exam and determine at your first visit if image is needed to treat your condition.

If you are suffering for cervical radiculopathy then please give us a call at 801-523-2582 so that we can start helping you with this serious condition right away.

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