What is Cervical Radiculopathy / Myelopathy?
Cervical Radiculopathy refers to feeling pain or another sensation somewhere in your arm, hands, or fingers other than where the problem is originating. In the case of Cervical Radiculopathy, the issue causing these symptoms is originating in the cervical spine, the neck. A dermatome is an area of the body that specifically corresponds to a certain spinal segment. Pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in a specific dermatome will help your medical provider to determine that there may be a spinal issue, and not a problem where the pain is actually being felt.
For instance – pain, tingling, or numbness in the right thumb may mean that there is a problem involving your right-sided C6/C7 spinal segment. This could be the case even if your neck does not hurt. If you have pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your pinky finger up through your triceps there’s probably an issue at the C8/T1 spinal segment.
Cervical myelopathy is a much more severe condition. Cervical Myelopathy means that instead of something compressing a nerve on the outside of the vertebral column, a space-occupying lesion is compressing the actual spinal cord encased within the vertebral column. Compression from Cervical Myelopathy is usually from something much more sinister compressing the spinal cord, other than simply a bulging disc.
They are two distinct conditions with different symptoms.
What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy / Myelopathy?
The causes of Cervical Radiculopathy may be anything that causes something to put pressure on a nerve root that is located on the outside of the vertebral column. Cervical Radiculopathy is usually more of a mechanical issue. The causes may be:
- Poor posture/slouching
- Degenerative changes
When something in the cervical (neck) area is compressing the spinal cord on the inside of the vertebral column, the causes can include the above but this generally occurs as a result of something more serious going on such as:
- Bone spurs
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
- Anterior herniations of discs (most discs will rupture posteriorly causing radicular symptoms)
#1 Rated Orthopedic Doctor in Texas
Call Now To Schedule Your Same-Day Appointment and Diagnosis
What Are Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy / Myelopathy?
Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy may be:
- Neck, shoulder, arm or finger pain
- Tingling, numbness or weakness felt in any the above areas
- Decreased range of motion in the neck
Symptoms associated with Cervical myelopathy are more sinister
- when the actual spinal cord is being compressed. The symptoms may include:
- Decreased range motion in neck and a feeling of stiffness
- Pain the neck
- Gait problems which include difficulty walking and a feeling of instability when standing
- Generalized weakness or clumsiness
- Numbness and tingling felt anywhere in the body, these symptoms will not follow a dermatomal pattern as in Cervical Radiculopathy
If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.
Cervical Myelopathy / Cervical Radiculopathy Treatment
The treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy is generally non-surgical while the treatment for Cervical Myelopathy generally requires surgery.
For both conditions, a course of physical therapy will be ordered. However, in the case of Cervical myelopathy, surgery will generally be indicated in order to promptly relieve the compression to the spinal cord.