Last updated: Nov 18, 2021

Cervical Radiculopathy

Because you use your neck all day every day, it’s subject to a lot of wear and tear. At the same time, poor posture, sitting in front of a screen all day, playing contact sports and lack of strengthening exercises weaken the muscles and ligaments needed to support all that movement. Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a nerve becomes compressed between discs in your neck or upper back. The pain can be excruciating or mildly annoying. Either way, your life is disrupted. Take care of the pain and get the proper treatment for a pinched nerve in your upper back at New Jersey’s premier pain management center: Redefine Healthcare. Call today for an appointment.

If you’re experiencing excruciating upper back pain around your neck or shoulder, it’s likely you have a pinched nerve in the cervical spine causing a condition known as cervical radiculopathy. Your cervical spine, which is the uppermost part of your spine, is made up of seven vertebral levels, referred to as C1 through C7. This section provides support for your neck and head, allows neck movement, and houses and protects the spinal cord.

The cervical spinal section also is made up of nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. The spinal nerves, which send signals from the brain to different parts of the body, exit the spinal cord through holes in your spine called intervertebral foramina. An inflammation or injury to these nerve roots leads to debilitating pain, numbness, loss of motion and weakness.

For pain relief and to restore function in your neck and shoulder, your spine needs immediate medical attention by a pain management specialist. At Redefine Healthcare in New Jersey, a pain management team diagnoses and treats your neck pain or shoulder pain caused by the pinched nerve in the neck.

Cervical Radiculopathy NJ

Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is a painful condition caused by a compressed or pinched nerve in the cervical region of the spine. As the spinal nerves exit the complex spinal canal structure, there’s an increased risk of pressure from the surrounding components. Any compression or interference with the nerves causes symptoms that may include:

  • Sharp, sudden pain in your neck
  • A continuous dull aching in your neck
  • Pain that radiates to your shoulders, neck or arms
  • A reduced range of motion in your neck and shoulder
  • Difficulty bending and turning your head
  • Pain that intensifies even with the simplest tasks
  • Sensitivity to the touch
  • Inflammation and swelling in your neck
  • Shoulder, arm and hand muscle weakness
  • Tingling and a pins-and-needles feeling in your fingers
  • A loss of sensation in your arms and hands
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Localized tenderness around the affected nerve
  • Muscle spasms in your neck

Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy

The cervical nerves exiting the spinal canal are sensitive. Anything that impinges on them can cause pinched nerve symptoms that need immediate treatment. Factors contributing to cervical radiculopathy include:

  • Cervical degenerative disc disease. Structural changes in the spine occur with age and overuse, such as playing certain sports or occupations that require you to turn your head extensively. With age, the spinal discs lose their elasticity or dry up, affecting your height. The changes may also lead to the development of bone spurs, which narrow the foramen and disrupt the exiting nerve roots.
  • Herniated disc. When you have a herniated disc, the gel-like nucleus pushes outward against the outer shell of the disc. The protruding disc can squeeze the sensitive nerve roots, which causes cervical radiculopathy.
  • Trauma. A neck injury, cervical sprain or shoulder injuries can lead to changes in the structure of your cervical spine. Such changes can lead to compression of the spinal nerves, causing pain or numbness there.
  • Infection. Although it’s not as common as disc degeneration or injury, a tumor or infection in your cervical spinal area can lead to cervical radiculopathy. The experts at Redefine Healthcare treat both conditions.

Following a firm diagnosis, your New Jersey pain management doctors develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your painful condition. They can treat every joint ailment, from compression fractures to arthritis in the neck.

Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy

Following a medical history and diagnostic imaging tests if necessary, your pain management doctor determines the treatment for you. Treatment for cervical radiculopathy usually begins with the least invasive, such as:

  • Resting your back and neck
  • Avoiding the strenuous activities causing the pain
  • Using ice treatments for pain relief
  • Manipulating the spine with chiropractic treatments
  • Taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Undergoing physical therapy to relieve pain and restore motion

It may be necessary to make lifestyle changes in conjunction with minimally invasive treatments. Giving up smoking helps, as does a commitment to more exercise. If you continue to experience pain and limited mobility, you may be a candidate for more invasive procedures, such as:

  • Cervical epidural steroid injections
  • Intradiscal electrothermal therapy
  • Surgical procedures, such as:
    • Endoscopic decompression
    • Artificial disc replacement
    • Endoscopic foraminotomy
    • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

You don’t have to struggle with neck or shoulder pain. The experienced pain doctors at Redefine Healthcare rely on the latest medical technologies and knowledge in their treatments. Contact the best northern New Jersey pain management doctors today to give yourself a new life devoid of pain.

This page was published on Jul 19, 2017, modified on Nov 18, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a "top pain management doctor in New Jersey" and one of "America’s Top Physicians" for advanced sports injury treatments.

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