The neck (cervical area), spinal cord, and associated nerves are complex and interconnected. An abnormality in one area often results in symptoms that affect other areas. One prime example of this is the condition known as cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy, also known as a “pinched nerve,” is caused when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated as it exits the spinal cord and travels to the arms. Often, this compression is caused by a herniated disc or bone spur. A spine specialist is trained to recognize and treat this common spinal condition.
SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY
A person suffering from a pinched nerve will feel pain, numbness, and/or tingling radiating from the neck to the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. Muscle weakness is another common symptom.
CAUSES OF CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY
Typically, radiculopathy occurs when tissues (such as the spinal vertebrae bones) surrounding the nerve roots shift position or change in size. When this happens, it causes a narrowing of the spaces through which nerve roots travel through and exit the spine. There are several reasons why tissues may shift or change in size, these include:
- Gradual degeneration
- Injury to the spine
- Herniated discs in the neck (a disc may slip, shift, or becomes damaged and press on surrounding nerves)
- Bone spurs (areas of extra bone growth due to inflammation from trauma, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or other degenerative conditions)
- Spinal infection
- Growths in the spine (cancerous or noncancerous) that press against the nerve roots
If you’re experiencing tingling, numbness, weakness, or radiating pain in your arms or hands, the cause could be a problem in your neck – even if you are not experiencing any neck pain. A spine doctor is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of cervical radiculopathy and devise a treatment plan to address the root cause of your symptoms.
If you’re looking for a back pain specialist in the southeast Houston area, contact the Spine Institute of Southeast Texas for a consultation.