Facebook Pixel

Can My Arm Pain Actually be Caused by a Problem in the Cervical Spine?

woman with radiating arm pain cervical Radiculopathy

Yes. This most often happens when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches off from the spinal cord, creating a pain that radiates into the shoulder and/or the arm. In most cases, this pinched nerve condition, often called cervical radiculopathy, is caused by wear and tear as we age.

Pain that radiates down the arm may also be the result of an injury that caused a herniated, or bulging, intervertebral disk.

Cervical Radiculopathy Treatment Options

Most patients with cervical radiculopathy get better over time and do not need the treatment of a healthcare provider. But there certainly are those other patients who do not improve and require evaluation and treatment.

The non-surgical treatments include wearing a soft cervical collar that reduces neck motion and promotes the resting of the muscles in the neck. Also, with physical therapy visits, some patients find that specific exercises can help relieve their pain, strengthen their neck muscles, and improve their range of motion. Medications can also be of help in relieving this pain.

When these nonsurgical treatments are tried and do not solve the problem, there are surgical procedures to treat cervical radiculopathy. The specific surgical procedure that your doctor might recommend for you will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing and the location of the nerve root that is causing your problem.

Preventing Cervical Radiculopathy

While you can’t always prevent cervical radiculopathy, there are lifestyle choices you can make that will reduce your risk. These might include:

  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Staying physically fit, including doing exercises that keep your muscles strong and flexible
  • Practicing good posture

You should also be aware that if you smoke or have a job that involves regular heavy lifting you are at a higher risk of cervical radiculopathy.

When to See a Doctor

If you have the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy, such as pain that radiates down your neck, into your arm, and this pain does not go away after a week or more of rest, it’s time to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing symptoms like muscle weakness or weakened reflexes in your arm, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery