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What is cervical radiculopathy?

Published on Mar 10, 2020 at 5:56 pm in injuries.

If your chiropractor or health care provider recently told you that you have cervical radiculopathy, you may wonder what it is and how it happened. Is it serious? Is it life-threatening? Can you hold someone accountable? Before you panic, know that while it can cause discomfort and even pain, the condition is not life-threatening. As for your third question regarding liability, the answer all depends on what caused the condition in the first place. MedicalNewsToday provides the answers you seek. 

In the most basic sense, cervical radiculopathy is a condition characterized by a pinched nerve root. The bones of the spine are made up of 33 vertebrae, seven of which are located in the neck. Muscles, ligaments and tendons hold the vertebrae in place. The vertebrae also house nerves, which extend from the spine to other areas of the body, including the arms and legs. Intervertebral discs sit between each vertebra and serve to prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other. 

Sometimes, the intervertebral discs become damaged, which can cause them to compress or irritate nearby nerve roots. When a nerve root becomes compressed or irritated, the person can experience a variety of adverse symptoms, one of the most common of which is pain. If you live with cervical radiculopathy, you may experience pain in your neck, chest, shoulders, upper back and arms. You may also experience weakness, tingling or a numbing sensation throughout your arms and fingers. 

Sometimes, cervical radiculopathy is the result of an injury, such as whiplash, a fall or a blow to the head. Other times, it can develop for no apparent reason. Individuals between 30 and 50 who develop the condition often do so as the result of repetitive motions, poor posture, being overweight or lifting heavy objects incorrectly. 

If your health care provider suspects you have cervical radiculopathy, he or she may order a symptom review, physical exam and testing. Testing may including an X-ray, CT scan, MRI or electrical impulse testing. If you receive a confirmed diagnosis, your doctor may recommend rest and certain medications. In very rare instances does radiculopathy require surgery, though you should not rule it out.

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