This condition is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the cervical spine. Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms, and hands, an injury in the cervical spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Cervical radiculopathy may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the cervical spinal column.
Nerve root injury in the cervical spine most commonly involves one of the three lowest levels of cervical vertebrae, which are called C5, C6, and C7. Symptoms may include pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling, and may vary depending on the level of the injury. For example, an injury at the C5 level may cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and upper arm. An injury at the next vertebral level (the C6 vertebrae) may cause pain in the shoulder and the arm, and it may also cause weakness in the arm. And finally, an injury at the lowest level (the C7 vertebrae) may cause pain from the neck all the way down to the hand, along with weakness in the arm and hand.
Many patients get better with simple painkillers, rest and stretches. For a more persistent case, manipulation by an osteopath or chiropractor can help. Other options are a nerve root block, which is an injection of steroids (strong anti-inflammatory drugs) around the bruised nerves. Lastly, surgery to relieve the pressure on the trapped nerve can be a very effective treatment.