Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is the disturbance or impairment of cervical nerve function(s) caused by the compression of cervical nerve roots. These nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord through openings of the vertebrae called foramina.

A/Prof Cristina Morganti-Kossmann

Lex Medicus Publishing Director

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Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is the disturbance or impairment of cervical nerve function(s) caused by the compression of cervical nerve roots. These nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord through openings of the vertebrae called foramina.

A number of conditions can lead to cervical radiculopathy, all of which share the altered anatomy and physiology of the intervertebral discs of the neck resulting in the impingement and inflammation of the cervical nerve roots.

Cervical radiculopathy may arise from a disc herniation, a vertebral fracture, the formation of bone spurs in the facet joints, vertebral stenosis or a direct compression onto the spinal cord by a tumour or other expanding masses.

The aetiology of this pathology differs in different age populations, whereby injury to the cervical spine is predominant in young individuals, whereas the elderly population is more commonly affected by degenerative spinal changes.

Depending on the specific vertebral level and the nerve roots affected, the characteristics of cervical radiculopathy and its symptoms vary significantly in terms of altering the sensation and motor function of the upper extremities.

The treatment of cervical radiculopathy always begins with conservative management and less frequently with surgery. However, surgical intervention is indicated/required when conservative treatment fails or the nerve roots are significantly compromised.

If you like to know more details on the causes, risk factors, diagnostic techniques, treatments and prevention of cervical radiculopathy, please follow this link.

You can also find the anatomy of the spine here and the examination of the spine here.

 

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