When a disc or vertebrae in your cervical spine (the upper part of your spine in your neck) squeeze a nerve, this can result in radiating pain, weakness, numbness, and more. This condition is called cervical radiculopathy, or a pinched nerve in the neck. In the vast majority of cases, cervical radiculopathy can be treated non-surgically.
Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy provides physical therapy treatments for cervical radiculopathy. With regular treatment, you can find relief from your pain and relieve the pressure on your nerve.
Cervical radiculopathy affects everyone differently. People may experience all of the symptoms or only one or two. When you suffer from a pinched nerve in your neck, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.
- Sharp, aching, or burning pain, which may radiate into the shoulder and/or arm.
- Tingling pins and needles sensations (paresthesia). This typically radiates down your arm, even to your fingers.
- Weakness in the muscles of the arm, shoulder, or hand.
- Difficulty moving your head normally.
- Weakened reflexes.
The above symptoms can occur whenever someone with a pinched nerve in their neck tries to move their head. People with cervical radiculopathy can put their forearm on top of their head to gain relief from their symptoms.
People often describe the pain from this pinched nerve as sharp or burning.
Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by an injury or through the natural process of aging. When a nerve root in your cervical spine becomes compressed and inflamed, this can lead to a pinched nerve in your neck.
This can happen as a result of:
Disc degeneration as a result of aging and bulging discs are the most common causes of cervical radiculopathy.
Most people who suffer from this condition are in their 50s or older or they are someone who: sits for long periods of time, is an athlete, conducts heavy labor, or works with vibrating machinery. If you have arthritis in your neck, you may be prone to this condition.
Most people with pinched nerves in their neck get better with conservative treatments over the course of one or two months. In rare cases, if your condition does not respond to conservative treatment methods, you could need more invasive treatments, such as surgery.
Physical therapy is a very effective treatment for cervical radiculopathy. When you see a physical therapist for your symptoms, they will conduct a thorough evaluation and take a detailed history of your symptoms.
Once they have ascertained the affected area, the factors that help or worsen your symptoms, when the pain started, and gathered all relevant information, they will come up with a personalized treatment plan. If your symptoms are severe, they may refer you to a neurosurgeon or orthopedic physician.
Physical therapy treatments for pinched nerves in your neck can include the following:
- Posture education. This includes recommended adjustments to your workspace and instructions on how to safely bend and lift. Proper posture is a crucial component of preventing cervical radiculopathy.
- Pain management. They will help reduce your pain and inflammation. This can be done with icing and heat therapy. You may benefit from a contoured pillow that supports your neck at night, or from wearing a soft, cervical collar for a week or two. They may also provide manual therapy to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.
- Exercises. Your physical therapist will guide you through exercises designed to increase your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and improve functionality.
Depending on the person, treatment methods can vary. In general, people spend about one to two months in physical therapy, with two to three sessions per week. The ideal treatment for you could take more or less time than this.
Cervical Radiculopathy Physical Therapy In Northern Utah
Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy is here to help you recover from your condition and get your life back. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options.