While a pain in the neck isn’t exactly ideal, at least it’s confined to that one small area of your body. When your neck pain is due to a pinched nerve, your symptoms may extend far beyond your neck and down through your shoulders, into your arms, and even your chest can be involved.
Called cervical radiculopathy, this condition is complex and greatly benefits from expert diagnosis and care by providers who specialize in spine health. Such a team can be found at Texas Spine Consultants, where Michael Hennessy, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, Heidi Lee, MD, Andrew Park, MD, and Robert Viere, MD, have considerable combined and individual experience with radiculopathy.
If you're wondering whether you might be dealing with cervical radiculopathy, read on to learn more.
Behind the nerve compression
Radiculopathy is a general term for symptoms that extend down the length of a nerve and this problem often crops up in areas where your spine works hardest — namely, your lower back (lumbar spine) and your neck (cervical spine).
In most cases, wear-and-tear in your cervical spine, which can lead to issues like bone spurs or disc degeneration, is the culprit behind the nerve compression, and there are plenty of nerves that can be affected.
Your neck alone features eight pairs of cervical spine roots that exit your spinal canal in between each of your cervical spine’s seven vertebrae. These nerves travel down into your arms and hands, and also around your chest and back.
So, when a major cervical nerve root is pinched in your neck, not only can you feel discomfort in the immediate area, you can experience numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness that radiate down the nerve. As a result, you might have tingling in your fingers or pain in your shoulder, which can be confusing when you’re trying to get to the bottom of the seemingly unrelated issues.
Getting the right diagnosis for your cervical radiculopathy
When you’re dealing with symptoms that aren’t confined to your neck, it’s important to find experts who can connect the dots. When you come in, one of our team members spends a good deal of time reviewing your symptoms and your medical history.
With that information, we have a better idea about what to look for and cervical radiculopathy is often on this list. If we suspect that a pinched nerve in your neck is behind your symptoms, we often turn to advanced imaging to confirm our suspicions. As well, we can perform certain tests, such as sensory testing, compression tests, and reflex assessments.
If we conclude that you have cervical radiculopathy, we want you to know that there are plenty of solutions. In most cases, conservative measures work well, such as injections and physical therapy. If the problem continues, we do offer surgical solutions to relieve the nerve compression (and your symptoms).
Before we go any further, the first step is to figure out what we’re up against. To that end, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule an appointment.