Diagnosing a spine-related health problem can be tricky.
An injury to your ankle typically results in proximate side effects. This includes pain, swelling, and throbbing in and around the area of the injury. The same isn’t always true for a spine problem; damage around your vertebrae may show up in a completely different area of your body.
Cervical radiculopathy is an example of this phenomenon. This is a spine condition where spine damage manifests as sensations in your extremities. Almost all the nerves that control your body and detect sensations pass through your spinal column. If one of these nerves is agitated, it can result in pain, tingling, numbness, and more in an unrelated part of the body such as the hand.
This makes tracking the source of certain symptoms difficult. After all, if you’re experiencing a shooting pain in your forearm, you’d probably logically assume there was something wrong with the muscles and nerves around the sensation. In fact, this feeling may actually be the result of a pinched or exposed nerve somewhere in your spine.
A number of common spine injuries can contribute to cervical radiculopathy, such as
- Disc herniation
- Advanced osteoarthritis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Whiplash injuries
- A violent impact or sports injury
Diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy can take some time. Usually people will try topical treatments and general pain medications to alleviate the issue. Unless the symptoms are very severe, the spinal nerves are usually not the first suspects. The true culprit of the problem is only found once the problems persist and go uncured by traditional methods.
To check for cervical radiculopathy, we’ll get and X-ray and/or an MRI to get a good view of the spine. If we see something weak, leaking, or out of alignment, we know some nerves are probably under stress and that cervical radiculopathy is a likely possibility.
If you take care of it, the spine will sometimes heal itself and relieve the cervical radiculopathy. We recommend that patients avoid activities that could worsen the condition. This includes heavy lifting, collision sports, and operating equipment that vibrates heavily.
If that doesn’t work, we’ll turn to more direct approaches. There are several remedies to cervical radiculopathy depending on the patient’s situation. Some include:
- Physical therapy
- Decompression therapy
- Epidural injections
- Surgery is a last resort option that can be considered if more conservative treatments fail