Radiculopathy: Neck Pain Causes and Treatment

General neck pain with accompanying radiating pain is often referred to as spondylosis with radiculopathy or cervical disc disorder with radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a term used to indicate that the radiating pain is related to a nerve in the neck region being irritated. Radiculopathy may or may not include functional loss, such as weakness in the neck, depending on each individual patient.

What Are The Symptoms Of Radiculopathy?

  • Upper extremity symptoms that are aggravated with specific neck symptoms
  • Arm symptoms that can extend below the elbow and into the scapular region
  • Limitations in cervical range of motion
  • Weakness to arm and/or hand on the side with symptoms
  • Symptoms into arm may be constant or intermittent
  • May report numbness/tingling/burning into arm

What Causes Radiculopathy?

  • Poor workstation ergonomics with repetitive activities
  • May or may not have specific changes to neck structures as noted on imaging
  • Heavy lifting and manual work
  • Poor posture, sustained postures
  • Trauma such as car accident
  • Awkward positions of the head and neck

How Can Physical Therapy Help With Radiculopathy:

  • Postural corrective exercises, your PT can advise on these exercises

  • Manual therapy techniques to cervical spine and/or thoracic spine

  • Traction to the neck

  • Specific corrective exercise to address neck dysfunction and weakness

  • Sustained or repeated movements into positions that reduce symptoms

  • Medication and other modalities such as ice or heat may be necessary to calm symptoms enough to participate in corrective exercises.

Every individual and every neck pain is very unique. The treatment suggestions listed above include several options to try and see how they may improve your situation. 

In addition, a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist can help identify specific features about your condition and how to best manage them. 

Understanding as much as possible about your current condition is a very important aspect of the recovery process and will empower you to take the necessary steps to get back to your normal activities with as little discomfort as possible.

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