Cervical Radiculopathy Treatment – Alleviating Neck Pain and Restoring Comfort
Understanding Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical Radiculopathy is a pinched or irritated nerve in the neck that causes pain, numbness, or weakness that then radiates out into the shoulders, arms and/or hands. Cervical Radiculopathy often resolves on its own, however for patients where that is not the case, this condition can create a constant radiating pain or weakness. This chronic pain can begin to have an effect on one’s day-to-day living. Dr. Cuellar is an expert in the field of spinal surgery with a special focus on helping patients with chronic pain conditions find relief. Dr. Cuellar specializes in recommending the least invasive procedures available for his patients.
Nerve compression syndrome is when pressure is put on a nerve in the peripheral nervous system. These nerves connect to parts of your body (like your hands and feet) that are farther away from the central nervous system (like your brain and spinal cord). Because these nerves are furthest away from the central nervous system, symptoms for cervical radiculopathy can feel like tingling, numbness, weakness or sharp pain in one’s extremities that starts in the neck.
The spinal vertebrae house the spinal cord and nerve roots as they exit and become spinal nerves. When something impacts or interferes with this system – be it an injury or damaged or diseased disc, or a tumor – this may cause pressure on the spinal nerve roots, which causes pain, numbness or weakness.
Recognizing Symptoms and Diagnosis
Cervical Radiculopathy can produce several symptoms, such as radiating pain down the arms, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle weakness and a loss of coordination of the hands.
Cervical Radiculopathy must be detected early with the aid of diagnostic imaging, such as MRI scans. Catching a spinal condition early is the key to finding a solution and path to a better quality of life. Furthermore, if a nerve root is chronically compressed it can cause permanent damage. Performing an MRI will help a surgeon to identify the root cause of the pain emanating out from your condition. MRI imaging will provide an in-depth look at the discs, spinal cord or nerve roots and help determine the source of nerve root compression.
Treating Cervical Radiculopathy
Nonsurgical Treatment Approaches
Cervical Radiculopathy can be treated by a number of non-surgical treatment options. Your doctor may recommend that you limit your activities in order to reduce pressure on the nerves or even use a cervical collar in order to stabilize and support the neck.
There are also a number of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available for treating Cervical Radiculopathy, such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen or Celebrex. Your doctor may recommend that you treat your Cervical Radiculopathy with pain management medication alongside physical therapy, to help strengthen and improve your mobility.
Cervical traction, and exercise in which you gently position and stretch your neck, may also play a positive role in your treatment plan against Cervical Radiculopathy.
Interventional Procedures for Relief
Cervical Radiculopathy is also treatable with interventional procedures that provide relief. Epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks have been proven to provide temporary relief in the affected area(s), by numbing the pain.
Surgical Options for Severe Cases
In instances of severe cases, there are surgical options available to treat Cervical Radiculopathy. This option should be seen as a last resort, when all previous conservative methods have been exhausted and failed.
Bone spurs, or a growth of bony material at the edge of a bone, often cause issues with nerve compression. Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to help relieve the pain caused by bone spurs or other contributing factors, such as material from a herniated disc or a bone spur that are in a nerve pathway. Cervical radiculopathy is the best indication for artificial disc replacement (ADR) also known as total disc replacement (TDR) or total disc arthroplasty. Disc replacement is the most successful surgical procedure used to treat cervical radiculopathy when performed by an experienced spinal arthroplasty surgeon. Dr. Cuéllar specializes in spinal disc replacement surgery.
Nonsurgical vs. Surgical Approach
Cervical Radiculopathy is treatable through both non-surgical and surgical options and should be addressed quickly. If symptoms persist or worsen, you may wish to consider surgery as a long-term option. Cervical Radiculopathy is a condition that will often heal on its own. Surgical options should only be considered when all else has failed.
There are several intervention strategies for managing cervical radiculopathy, with physical therapy and surgical interventions being the most common to aid in long-term implications from this condition. For surgical options, patients will require assistance post-surgery and should not expect to return to their regular physical activities until after the 3-6 week recovery time has passed.
Expert Consultation and Customized Treatment Plans
Dr. Cuellar began his undergraduate studies at U.C Davis in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, but went on to earn a Ph.D in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology due to experiencing his own pain from a herniated disc – Dr. Cuellar sought to understand how disc herniation causes pain at a molecular level. Dr. Cuellar went on to study at Stanford University Medical School and completed his training in orthopaedic surgery at the prestigious New York University-Hospital for Joint Disease. During that 6-year training period, Dr. Cuellar treated patients at the two busiest level-1 trauma centers in New York. He has since become a leader in treating chronic pain across the spinal surgeon industry. Furthermore, Dr. Cuellar stays abreast of the most cutting- edge technology available to further support the care he gives to each of his patients.
Seeking out the right diagnosis as soon as symptoms present themselves is the key to maintaining your spinal health. Cervical Radiculopathy is a treatable condition – Dr. Cuellar is here to guide and support his patients through the process, every step of the way.
Find the answers to your spinal health questions with Dr. Cuellar. We provide a full physical evaluation alongside an assessment of your medical history and design comprehensive curated treatment strategies to find the best solution to pain-free outcomes. Call us today to schedule a consultation and book an appointment with our staff at our office in Palm Beach County and Miami.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical Radiculopathy is most often caused by a disc herniation or bone spur compressing a nerve root.
- Is Cervical Radiculopathy the same as Spinal Cord Compression?
Cervical Radiculopathy is the when the nerve root is compressed. This is different than when the spinal cord is compressed, although some symptoms may overlap.
- What Are Bone Spurs and How Do They Contribute to Symptoms?
Bone spurs are an abnormal bone growth that place unwelcome pressure on the nerve root or the spinal cord. This pressure can cause nerve root irritation or compression, leading to pain, numbness or tingling.
- When is Surgical Treatment Necessary for Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical Radiculopathy can require surgical treatment if symptoms worsen or do not go away on their own. Ask your doctor what the best treatment for cervical radiculopathy is for you.