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About Physiatry

Cervical Radiculopathy

Condition: The term cervical radiculopathy is used to describe pain, weakness, and/or numbness that occurs due to a pinched or irritated nerve in the spinal cord in the neck.

Background: Nerve dysfunction can result from internal causes, such as inflammation or tumors, or from external causes, such as herniated discs, tumors, swelling, trauma, or changes in blood supply.

Risk Factors: Men are affected slightly more often than women. Risk factors for this condition include heavy manual labor requiring lifting, smoking, driving, operating vibrating equipment, neck trauma from sports or a motor vehicle accident, and previous spinal nerve injury.

History and Symptoms: Onset can be either immediate as usually observed in younger patients due to injury or chronic/long-term as usually observed in older patients due to age-related spine changes, resulting in inflammation and nerve irritation. Common symptoms involve limited range of motion, neck pain, and headaches.

Physical Exam: Physical examination will be performed to determine the precise location of the pain, its distribution, and factors that relieve the pain or make the pain worse. Use of a disability questionnaire is useful to evaluate the impact of the pain on everyday activities, such as personal care, work, driving, and sleeping.

Diagnostic Process: MRI is the best option for diagnosing persistent or worsening symptoms. CT can be useful for identifying underlying structural causes. Nerve conduction studies or needle electromyography that measures muscle electrical activity can also be used to assess the condition.

Rehab Management: Prognosis is good, with 90% of patients improving with rehabilitation. The main objectives of treatment are to relieve pain, improve neurological function, and prevent recurrence. Medications such as opioids and NSAIDs are often used. Oral or injected steroids can also be prescribed. Surgical treatment may be considered if pain persists or neurological problems worsen. Rehabilitation involves physical therapy and modification of activities to improve mobilization, flexibility, and weakness in order to restore range of motion and strength.

Other Resources for Patients and Families: A multidisciplinary approach to treatment using medications, physical therapy, activity accommodations, and potentially surgery is beneficial. Other resources may offer education and support for this condition.

 

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