Signs Your Neck Pain Is Actually Cervical Radiculopathy

Your neck is a complicated part of your anatomy. It’s the hub of several nerve roots that branch out from your spinal cord and allow your shoulders, arms, and hands to feel and move. If those nerves become damaged or inflamed, you have a condition called cervical radiculopathy — the umbrella term used to describe changes in nerve function in your cervical, or neck, region.

Dr. Jay M. Shah at the Samwell Institute for Pain Management understands the complexities of cervical radiculopathy and can help you get to the bottom of your nerve pain. Using the latest technology in his state-of-the-art facilities, Dr. Shah accurately diagnoses the source of your nerve damage and designs a treatment plan to help you overcome chronic, debilitating pain. 

Understanding your neck nerves

Your spine is made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae, and they stack one on top of the next in a long line commonly known as the spinal column. The bottom section is called the lumbar region, the middle is the thoracic section, and the top part — your neck — is the cervical region. Each vertebra is numbered, and the cervical section contains C1-C8.

In order to give your extremities feeling and movement, the nerves rooted in your spine branch out from in between your vertebrae and travel throughout your body. You have eight pairs of cervical nerve roots. If you have an injury or develop a condition — such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or a herniated disc — that puts pressure on those cervical nerves, you may feel the effects not only in your neck, but in the places where those nerves travel. 

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of cervical radiculopathy:

Head and neck pain

The C1-C3 cervical nerves control your head and neck. If you feel pain when you bend your neck forward or backward, or flex to bend it side-to-side, you may have a damaged nerve in the upper three sections.

Shoulder pain

The next cervical nerve, C4, is responsible for part of your neck, your upward shoulder movements such as shrugging and lifting, and your upper arms. It also partners with its neighbors, C3 and C5, to regulate your diaphragm. Pain in your shoulders may be attributable to a nerve in this area.

Bicep, wrist, thumb, and index finger pain

Reaching down the length of your arm, the C6 nerve affects the bicep muscle in your upper arm, your wrist, and the thumb side of your hand, which may include your index finger. Tingling or numbness in these areas may indicate cervical radiculopathy.

Triceps and middle finger pain

If your tricep (that large muscle on the back part of your upper arm) hurts, it could be a sign of cervical radiculopathy, as the C7 nerve controls that muscle. In fact, it runs all the way down to your middle finger, so if your symptoms show up there, it’s also a good indicator that C7 is involved.

Finger pain and weak grip

The last of the cervical nerves, C8, allows you to grasp things and flex your fist. If you feel a pins-and-needles sensation, a notable weakness, or a numbing in your fourth finger or pinky finger, or if you’ve been unable to grip things, C8 may be the culprit.

Treating cervical radiculopathy

Once Dr. Shah narrows down the source of your nerve pain, he can determine the best treatment plan. The first order of business is to relieve your pain, which may be accomplished through medications that reduce inflammation.

Then, Dr. Shah addresses the root cause of the nerve pain, whether it’s a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or some other condition. Often times, physical therapy is enough to strengthen your musculoskeletal system and stop your chronic pain; other times, surgery is the best way to treat the problem once and for all. Other treatments include trigger point injections, epidural spinal injections, spinal cord stimulation,  traction, and manual manipulation.

If you’re experiencing pain in your neck, shoulders, arms, or hands, it might be cervical radiculopathy and we can help. Give us a call or use our online booking tool to schedule a consultation right away. You don’t have to live with the pain anymore. 

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