Tingling in Your Arms: Is It Cervical Radiculopathy?

Wear and tear or injury to the neck (cervical spine) can cause problems that irritate or compress the surrounding nerves. This is known as a cervical radiculopathy and is often due to a herniated disc or bony growth known as a bone spur.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Jones II diagnoses and treats a full range of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, including cervical radiculopathy. Our team is dedicated to finding solutions to reduce pain and tingling and restore functionality so that you can reclaim your quality of life.

Understanding the anatomy of the neck

The first seven vertebrae of the spine make up the cervical spine -- the neck. The cervical spine has a backward C-shaped curve and is more flexible than other parts of the spine. While flexibility enables you to move your head in different ways, the benefit also makes the cervical spine more susceptible to wear and tear.

A hollow space called the spinal canal runs the length of the spine. This space houses the spinal cord and nerves. Ligaments and muscles attached to each vertebra support the spinal canal and nerves.

Cervical radiculopathy overview

Commonly called a pinched nerve, radiculopathy is compression, injury, or irritation to nerve roots in the area where they leave the spine. Cervical radiculopathy occurs when this happens in the cervical spine.

Nerve roots that leave the cervical spine travel into the arm, supplying sensation and transmitting electrical signals that enable you to move your arm and hand. When a nerve is compressed or irritated, it prevents the nerve from functioning properly. Tingling in your arms may indeed be caused by cervical radiculopathy.

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy

A cervical radiculopathy can cause various symptoms in the neck, arms, and shoulders. The most common symptoms are:

You may feel symptoms in one area only, such as your arm or shoulder, and your pain may worsen with certain activities. Headaches caused by cervical radiculopathy are often felt in the back of the head.

Some patients go through a period of flare-ups where symptoms worsen. 

Causes of cervical radiculopathy

Changes to the tissues surrounding the nerve roots in the cervical spine is the most common cause of a cervical radiculopathy. Degenerative changes to the vertebrae, tendons, or intervertebral discs can cause compression or irritation of the nerve roots. 

When these tissues shift or they change in size, they can cause the limited space of the spinal canal to narrow. In many cases the narrowing is gradual and occurs with age.

A herniated disc is an example of such changes. A herniation occurs when an intervertebral disc that provides cushion between two vertebra shifts out of place or the jelly-like center bulges out. 

Bone spurs are another common cause of cervical radiculopathy. These bony growths can form due to ongoing inflammation from degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. The growths can press against nerves in the spinal canal, causing irritation.

Seeking solutions for cervical radiculopathy

When nonsurgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief, surgical options are available to relieve the pressure on the nerves and resolve symptoms. To have your back or neck pain evaluated, call us at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas to schedule a visit with Dr. Jones. 

We have offices in Pearland, Houston, and Lake Jackson, Texas. Phone the nearest office, or book your appointment here on the website.

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