Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that is caused due to ageing, bone spurs and also due to injury. The condition causes severe pain and tingling sensation in the arms, neck and shoulder area. Degenerative disk disease is another cause for Cervical Radiculopathy when the discs dry and collapse.The collapsing of the disc will reduce the space between the vertebrae, causing the joints of spinal cord to swell because of the irritation, and press the nerves that radiate to the shoulders and arms. This will cause the nerves to get pinched, causing pain to the person.
Tests For Cervical Radiculopathy
The most common nerve roots that are affected with Cervical Radiculopathy are nerves C5, C6, C7 and C8. The doctor will first conduct a physical examination of the person if he suspects that the pain is caused by Cervical Radiculopathy. This will include observation of the patient as to how he holds his shoulders, neck and arms. Testing will also include a series of movements to assess the sensory, range of motion, strength, instability, provocative and reflex capabilities of the person.
Various orthopaedic tests are available to assess the capability of the neck and also to identify the condition. Spurling’s test is one of the most common tests used for identification. This test involves moving of head sideways and up and down. The doctor might also push your head gently downward to asses if the tingling sensation and pain increases. This is known as axial compression. If these tests cause pain and tingling sensation, it is most probably due to Cervical Radiculopathy.
If the physical and orthopaedic examination had positive results, to confirm the diagnosis an X ray might be recommended by your doctor. An x- ray can help in identifying the narrowing of the space between the vertebrae. A CT scan is also used for diagnosis and investigating anomalies in the bones like bone spurs and other degenerative disorders.MRI scans are recommended in the case of abnormalities related to soft tissues of the neck like ligament damage and also abnormalities in the disc. Cervical myelograms are performed in very severe cases of Cervical Radiculopathy to get a better image of the spine and to asses the severity of the condition. This however has some risks associated with it and must be done only as a last resort.
If your suspect Cervical Radiculopathy, you must ensure that you give adequate rest to your nerves so that it resolves on its own. Assess the activities that you have been doing lately which could have caused the condition. This could be anything from a change of job, strenuous exercise or lifting of heavy objects etc. Identify the activities that cause the pain and the tingling and stay away from them to avoid further damage to the nerves.You must also look for weakness in the arms and fingers caused due to the pressure on the nerves that travel to the arms. If the symptoms continue for more than a week, make sure that you consult a specialist to get tested further.