Neck and arm pain are associated with a condition known as cervical radiculopathy. Cervical radiculopathy is commonly known as the pinched nerve. Let’s discuss Neck and Arm Pain Treatment.
Cervical radiculopathy occurs when the nerve in the neck is irritated or compressed at the position where it branches away from the spinal cord.
The irritation or compression of the nerves causes pain which transmits into the shoulder through the arm down to the hand. It also causes numbness and weakness of the muscles in the shoulder and arm.
The neck muscles can be strained from poor posture from sitting or lying down. Neck pain is a common pain that most people complain about. Office workers that sit on a chair for long hours staring at the computer, lying on the bed without properly supporting your head with a pillow are the most common causes of neck pain.
Cervical radiculopathy is commonly caused by the wear and tear changes that occur in the spine due to aging. It is caused by older people who suffer from arthritis and can be caused by younger people by an injury that results in a herniated disk.
Causes of Neck and Arm Pain
Different issues can lead to neck and arm pain. You may experience mild pain or severe pain depending on the cause and severity of the neck condition. Neck and arm pain can be caused by:
Overuse or strain of muscle
When you spend long hours in a particular position such as sitting on a chair and staring at your computer screen or lying on the bed for a long time. If you are involved in any of these, you will be overusing your muscle and straining it which lead to pains.
Compression of the nerve transmits pains through the shoulder to the arm. Herniated disks also lead to neck and arm pains.
Worn-out joints occur due to aging. Arthritis causes the cartilage between the vertebrae to deteriorate which then form bone spurs that affect the motion of the joint and causes pain.
Diseases or infections
There are different certain health conditions or diseases that lead to neck and arm pain. Diseases such as meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer cause chronic cases of neck and arm pain.
Injuries sustained from the accident as a result of hitting the head or sudden jerking forward and backward of the head damages or affect the soft tissues in the neck which lead to pains.
Tests and Treatments
Before undergoing Neck and Arm Pain Treatment, your doctor will first do some tests or examination to know the exact area that is affected. The test that your doctor may do include:
These give pictures of thick structures, for example, bone. An x-ray will display the arrangement of bones along your neck. It can likewise uncover whether there is any narrowing of the foramen and harm to the disks.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
These examinations make better pictures of the body’s delicate tissues. An MRI of the neck can appear if your nerve pressure is brought about by harm to delicate tissues, for example, a swelling or herniated disk. It can likewise enable your specialist to decide if there is any harm to your spinal cord or nerve roots.
Computed tomography (CT) scans
A CT scan is more detailed than an X-ray. A CT scan can enable your specialist to decide if you have developed bone spurs close to the foramen in your cervical spine.
Electromyography estimates the electrical driving forces of the muscles when at rest and during constrictions. Nerve conduction studies are regularly done alongside EMG to decide whether a nerve is working well. Together, these tests can enable your specialist to decide if your side effects are brought about by weight on spinal nerve roots and nerve harm or by another condition that makes harm nerves.
For moderate cases of neck pain, a specialist can examine your neck, shoulder, and arm with his/her hand. This is to ascertain the particular area where the pain is higher, weakness of muscles, loss of sensation and other affected areas.
Neck and Arm Pain Treatment:
Physical therapy is used to strengthen the muscles in the neck, enhance the flexibility of the neck, and to relieve pains. The joints in the neck and arm can also be straightened using physical therapy. Your therapist will determine the best program depending on the condition.
The use of a soft cervical collar
A soft cervical collar is a padded ring that is wrapped around the neck to hold the neck in place. The reason for using soft cervical collar is to limit the motion of the neck and for the muscles in the neck to rest. With the help of the soft cervical collar, the pinching of the nerve roots that goes with the movement of the neck is reduced. A soft cervical collar is however recommended for use for a short period of time.
Steroids are injected close to the affected nerve to reduce inflammation. Steroids are typically injected between the laminae, in the foramen or in the facet joint. Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain so that the nerve will have enough time to recover.
Narcotics are used when other medications have been used but the patient still feels severe pain. Narcotics are used for a limited period of time as long use of narcotics can lead to addiction.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs provide relief to the pain that is caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerve. Medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen can be taken to relieve pain.
Oral corticosteroids are taken for a short amount of time to help reduce inflammation around the nerve and relieve pain.
Surgery is the last resort of treatment when all other kinds of treatment have been used and still, the pain is not gone. There are several different surgical procedures that may be recommended by your doctor depending on the symptoms you are exhibiting, location of the affected nerve root, and some other factors.