Do you experience pain down your arm when you move your neck a certain way or when you are sitting with bad postures? What is the best therapy for cervical radiculopathy?
Pain that radiates from your neck that travels into your upper arm to your forearm and even your hand is called cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical relates to the neck vertebrae called the cervical vertebrae and radiculopathy refers to numbness, tingling or pain that radiates down the arm when your nerve is irritated.
Cervical Radiculopathy Really Isn’t A Diagnosis
Cervical radiculopathy only tells you that there is an irritated or pinched nerve in the neck but it does not describe the cause of the problem. Cervical radiculopathy is an explanation for your symptoms, similar to why sciatica isn’t a diagnosis for lower back pain.
For example your health care practitioner might tell you that you have C6 cervical radiculopathy. Let’s look at what this means:
In the example of a C6 cervical radiculopathy your C6 nerve root is pinched. The C6 nerve root exits in between the C5 and C6 spinal vertebrae. It is important to understand the specific cause for irritation of the nerve because treatment will differ depending on the cause. If there is pressure on the nerve because of muscle tension, then the muscle tension needs to be released. If the cause is due to disc protrusion in the neck, then treatment techniques may focus on reducing pressure from the disc. If the cause is due to nerve tension through the nervous system, then nerve mobilization techniques will be used to help alleviate your symptoms.
The great news is that treatment for cervical radiculopathy by manual methods like chiropractic and physiotherapy was found to be more effective than surgery.
Here is a list of the treatments that were found to be effective in research studies:
- Mobilizations: Movements that are performed by a health practitioner to gently move your vertebrae
- McKenzie based retraction exercises: Small chin tuck movements
- Cervical Lateral Glides: Another type of movement/mobilization to the bones of the neck
- Nerve Flossing: Stretching to free a nerve that is trapped by muscles, tendon, discs, bones or other tissue
Treatments that may or may not help as they are not proven by the research at this time.
- Spinal Manipulation: A small amplitude, quick thrust applied to the spinal vertebrae by an experienced practitioner with specialized training
My personal experience after 20 years working as a chiropractor is that some people do respond very well to spinal manipulation but it takes a skilled practitioner to determine which patients respond best. Also, it is important that an individualized approach to treatment is utilized and that manipulation is performed safely and accurately. Another approach that works very well with cervical radiculopathy is acupuncture and dry needling. The acupuncture needle can bring increased oxygen and blood flow to the deprived nerve helping to heal the nerve quickly and relieve any tension/pressure around the nerve.
If you are suffering from cervical radiculopathy, contact us today to book your appointment so that you can get on the road to recovery.