Our orthopaedic spine specialists at OrthoGeorgia have years of experience diagnosing and treating spine conditions and injuries, including cervical radiculopathy. This condition is more commonly referred to as a pinched nerve. It occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated. The vertebrae of the spine are subject to wear and tear as we age, and this gradual degeneration can lead to degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, and cervical radiculopathy. Pinched nerves in the neck often respond well to conservative treatment. Guidance from one of our physicians at OrthoGeorgia will ensure that your neck or back condition is properly diagnosed and treated according to your unique needs.
What are the Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy?
The nerves of the neck extend to the shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back, meaning that symptoms of cervical radiculopathy can affect much more than just your neck. Cervical radiculopathy most commonly causes pain that begins in the neck and progresses to the arm. The area affected will be the area served by the damaged nerve. The pain may be burning or sharp. Other symptoms caused by a pinched nerve in the neck include tingling in the hands and fingers, arm or shoulder muscle weakness, and loss of sensation in the affected area. Those with cervical radiculopathy often experience neck pain and headaches towards the back of the head, referred to as occipital headaches.
Diagnosis of Cervical Radiculopathy at OrthoGeorgia
Diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy at OrthoGeorgia starts with a review of your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will ask questions about what you are experiencing and the parts of your body that are affected. They will then check your neck, shoulder, arms, and hands for any problems with sensation or reflexes that may be connected to the nerves in your neck. They may also ask if moving your arms or neck a certain way relieves or increases pain.
Several imaging tests are used to get a better picture of what is causing your pain and whether or not cervical radiculopathy is the culprit. A CT scan can give your spine specialist a clear image of your cervical spine. X-rays may be used to look for the narrowing of vertebral openings or disc injury, and MRI may be used to check for damage to nerve roots. Digital X-ray is offered at all OrthoGeorgia locations. We offer CT scans at our Macon Spine and Orthopaedic Center and MRI scans at our Macon (Buildings A and B) and Warner Robins offices. Patients have the added benefit of our Signa Voyager Wide Bore MRI machine from GE Healthcare, which offers advanced comfort and crisper, cleaner images.
Treatment of Cervical Radiculopathy in Central GA
Nonsurgical Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy
In 85% of cases, cervical radiculopathy symptoms resolve on their own after eight to twelve weeks. Persistent symptoms may prompt your physician to pursue different treatment options to see what works best for you. Nonsurgical treatment options for cervical radiculopathy are successful for 90% of those with the condition. A neck brace may be recommended to manage and alleviate symptoms by minimizing neck movement and reducing nerve root irritation. Certain medications can also help manage this condition. These include NSAIDs to provide pain relief and target inflammation and oral corticosteroids to reduce swelling and inflammation around the pinched nerve.
Physical Therapy Care in Central Georgia
In some cases, physical therapy is an ideal nonsurgical treatment option. One of our physical therapists will work with you on exercises designed to stretch and strengthen your neck muscles throughout different stages of your treatment plan. We are proud to create individualized care plans for our patients, ensuring that the steps taken are unique to your specific condition and needs. Patients can visit our Macon (Buildings A and B), Warner Robins, and Kathleen offices for personalized physical therapy care in Central GA.
Surgery for Cervical Radiculopathy in Central GA
In cases where nonsurgical treatments fail to address cervical radiculopathy and its symptoms, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is often indicated when pain lasts at least six to twelve weeks following nonsurgical treatments. There are several surgical options for this condition, and your physician at OrthoGeorgia will determine the best path forward based on the severity of your condition and your overall health and medical history. The most common surgical procedures used to address cervical radiculopathy are:
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
During this procedure, the problematic disc or bone spur is removed. A spinal fusion is then performed to fuse the vertebrae and encourage them to heal into one single, solid bone.
Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR)
A degenerated disc is removed and replaced with an artificial version to allow for flexibility in the spine and maintain more normal motion.
Posterior Cervical Laminoforaminotomy
By accessing the spine through the back of the neck, your doctor will be able to access the damaged nerve and remove the bone, bone spurs, and tissues that are compressing the nerve root.
Other Spine and Back Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
Our orthopaedic spine specialists at OrthoGeorgia work with patients of all ages to diagnose and treat spine conditions and injuries that cause discomfort and pain. Proper diagnosis and treatment of back, spine, and neck conditions are crucial so you can continue to live your most comfortable life. These conditions include:
“I really like Dr. Brooks. I'll be honest I'm stubborn and I don't listen to a lot of people and he was right to the point with me about what I needed to do and what was happening... and it feels better now than it did 10, 15, 20 years ago it really does."
Eric Hayes, Mercer Tennis Coach & OrthoGeorgia Patient