What is Cervical Radiculopathy?
A pinched or irritated nerve in the neck causing pain, numbness, or weakness radiating into the chest or arm.
Why does it happen and how can we make it better?
Most common cause is slipped disc narrowing the space for nerve pathway. It can compress or irritate the nerve bundles with shooting pain, numbness, or tension in one’s arm or hand. Treatment is focusing on increasing the joint space to decrease pressure on the nerve by manual therapy, traction, or Disc specialized exercise program (Mckenzie Program).
Non Surgical Treatment Options
1. Mckenzie Exercise Program
Mackenzie Exercise Program specializes in realigning of spine and disc disposition. The basic treatment begins with repeated Chin-Tuck movement as tolerated. This motion slowly pushes slipped disc back to the front (Usually disc slips backward + side way). It also combines side bending movement and rotation movement to normalize the disc disposition. Finally, once patient can tolerate the pain, repeated extension movement will be added to the program.
2. Traction/ Decompression
Traction means pulling the distal part away to increase the space. Cervical radiculopathy usually happens due to decreased joint space such as slipped disc. We can increase the space of the spine by doing manual traction so that the nerve bundles are not being irritated due to compression.
3. Spine Adjustment
Spine Adjustment performed by a medical professional is the one of the most powerful way to increase joint space. If applied correctly, it increases neck range of motion instantly with decreased pain level. For acute neck pain with radiculopathy, mid and upper back adjustment can be applied.
4. Trigger Point Release
Trigger point is irritated muscle knots. This knot shortens the muscle length resulting in increasing tension on the joint. By releasing this knots, joint and nerves can have less tension and compression pressure.
5. Posture Correction Program
The most common cause of slipped disc is poor posture, especially in sitting. Slouched posture leads to protruded chin in sitting. If we maintain this posture long time, there are more chances having ligament stress, disc protrusion as well as muscle imbalance in neck, upper and mid-back.
Posture correction program focuses on strengthening core muscles around neck, back and scapula as well as improving awareness of good posture for self correction.