We’ve all suffered from the occasional stiff neck or, as some like to call it, “a crick in the neck.”
But sometimes, problems in the neck can actually cause significant pain, tingling, burning or weakness in the shoulders, arms and hands. This is often the result of a condition called cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy occurs when the nerves in the cervical spine (neck) become compressed or inflamed. The pain can develop gradually or come on suddenly. The pain may be worse if you try to bend your neck backwards, sideways or try to rotate it.
Some of the most common causes of cervical radiculopathy are a herniated (bulging) cervical disc, cervical spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease. The condition often presents itself in older adults due to the natural changes in the spinal structure that occur with age.
As a pain specialist, I will diagnose the exact cause of your pain, especially since the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and cervical radiculopathy can mimic each other. I will gather your patient history and conduct a thorough physical exam. I may also conduct a Spurling’s test, which involves a simple manual manipulation of your neck to determine if compressing the cervical spine can reproduce or (temporarily) worsen your symptoms.
If I do diagnose cervical radiculopathy, I generally develop a treatment plan that begins with rest or activity modification, as well as ice/heat therapy and over the counter anti-inflammatories for pain relief. I may also recommend physical therapy or other treatments, including traction, chiropractic manipulation or massage.
If those measures do not bring relief, I may initiate a carefully monitored medication management plan that includes stronger prescription medications. I may also recommend an epidural injection of corticosteroids into the area to decrease the pain for an extended period of time.
I may not be able to help with every source of “pain-in-the-neck”, but I can help pain in your neck from conditions such as cervical radiculopathy and others. So don’t live in pain any longer than necessary. Contact me today.