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Cervical Radiculopathy: What's pinching me?

Your doctor has said you have cervical radiculopathy and now you're trying to find out why that sounds so ridiculous because you've got no idea what it is! 

What's a pinched nerve?

Cervical radiculopathy is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve in the neck! Pinched doesn't have to mean completely "pinched off", but irritated or compressed as it exits through the foramen (a hole in the bony vertebrae). 

                                                      A healthy intervertebral disk (cross-section view).

You might notice numbness/tingling, pain or even weakness in one or both of your arms. Depending on what level or levels the nerve root is impinged at will determine where you notice the arm symptoms. 

Cervical radiculopathy is a pain in the neck! Literally and figuratively for sure. Symptoms can be constant or come and go intermittently. You may find certain positions or activities exacerbate your neck and arm more than others.  

                                                       Young woman with muscle pain after fitness workout.

What can physical therapy do for my neck?

Your physical therapist will start by addressing the soft tissue structures (like muscles and connective tissue) that are tight and/or tender. There are a variety of manual therapy techniques that they can use to help calm down those tissues. Your muscles can be tight because they are contracting to guard or protect the cervical spine. 

They will also teach you postural strengthening to help support the entire kinetic chain, not just the neck. The head is like a giant bowling ball on top of a skinny pencil and we need to give that skinny pencil as much support as we can. 

There are also different positions that we can put the spine in that may help to relieve the pressure and irritation. Such as extension and retraction. 

 

If you think you have a pinched nerve and are ready to address it, contact us today!