Radiculopathy is a medical term used to describe the neurological deficits that can occur from pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, such as arm or finger weakness, numbness or pain. Cervical radiculopathy refers to a dysfunction of a nerve root caused by injury or compression of a spinal nerve root in the neck.
Conditions that can cause radiculopathy include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease: A condition caused by wear and tear on the discs between the vertebrae causing them to lose their cushioning ability.
- Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal as we age, most commonly due to degenerative arthritis.
- Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: This condition is degeneration (wear and tear) of the vertebral components, usually occurring after age 50, causing slippage of a vertebra onto another, leading to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
Cervical radiculopathy can result in pain, numbness, or weakness in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand. Patients with myelopathy presents with weakness, problems manipulating small objects, and difficulty with normal gait.
Your doctor will perform physical examination to diagnose cervical myelopathy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your spine may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out the other conditions causing similar symptoms. In addition to a complete history and physical examination, your doctor can use several diagnostic tests such as spine X-ray, spine MRI or spine CT scans and Electromyography and nerve conduction studies to diagnose cervical radiculopathy and myelopathy.