Cervical Radiculopathy / Myelopathy
What is cervical radiculopathy/myelopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy (ra-dick-you-lop’-a-thee) is the result of injury to or compression of the root of a nerve in the neck which can result in pain at the end of the nerve where sensation is felt. On the other hand, cervical myelopathy (my-lop’-a-thee) affects the spinal cord in the neck rather than the nerve root.
What causes cervical radiculopathy/myelopathy?
There can be many causes of cervical radiculopathy/myelopathy which include degenerative changes in the neck, congenital narrowing of the spinal canal, herniated discs, tumor, trauma, or can be a combination of the any of the above.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy may include pain, numbness, or weakness in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand. Cervical myelopathy can result in weakness, problems manipulating small objects, and difficulty with normal gait.
How is cervical radiculopathy/myelopathy diagnosed?
In addition to a complete history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for cervical radiculopathy/myelopathy may include the following:
- x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible energy beams to produce images of bones onto film.
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in an intervertebral disc, vertebral body, spinal cord, nerve roots, ligaments, and muscle.
- selective anesthetic injection – a needle is introduced through the skin into a specific anatomic area usually to inject a combination of local anesthetic and corticosteroid under radiographic guidance.
- electromyogram/nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) - a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function in the arms.
Specific treatment for sciatica will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
To help relieve the symptoms, treatment may include:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- physical therapy
- if symptoms persist or worsen, surgery to relief the pressure on the nerves/spinal cord and possible fusion of the parts of the neck may be suggested by your surgeon