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Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve, is a condition caused by an irritation or compression of nerve roots in the cervical spine. Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms, and hands, it can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in these areas.

Causes and risk factors

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis


  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand or fingers
  • Weakness in the arm, shoulder, or hand muscles
  • Loss of sensation
  • Pain decreases when hands placed on top of head

Diagnosis and treatment

Cervical radiculopathy typically responds well to nonsurgical treatment. After a physical exam, your physician may use imaging such as x-ray or MRI to help diagnose the condition. An EMG or Nerve Conduction Study will help confirm if your symptoms are caused by too much pressure on the nerve. Physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are often the initial treatment for cervical radiculopathy. Steroid injections can help alleviate swelling and relieve your neck pain to allow the nerve to recover. If this does not relieve the symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery.