This condition is an irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the cervical spine. Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms and hands, an injury in the cervical spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Cervical radiculopathy may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the cervical spinal column.
Causes (Herniated Disc)
One common cause is a herniated disc. A herniated
disc is a rupture in the fibrous outer wall of a
vertebral disc, which allows the soft nucleus of the
disc to bulge outward. This bulge can press
harmfully against a nerve root.
Causes (Degenerative Disc Disease)
Another common cause of nerve root injury is
degenerative disc disease. It occurs when a spinal
disc weakens, allowing vertebral bones above and
below the disc to shift out of position. The bones
can touch, pinching nearby nerve roots.
Causes (Spinal Stenosis)
When bones, discs or joints of the spine
degenerate, bony spurs may form and push into the
spinal canal or foramen space. This is called spinal
stenosis, and it can also create harmful pressure
against the spinal cord or nerve roots.
Nerve root injury in the cervical spine most
commonly involves one of the three lowest levels of
cervical vertebrae, which are called C5, C6 and C7.
Symptoms may include pain, weakness, numbness
and tingling, and may vary depending on the level
of the injury. For example, an injury at the C5 level
may cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and
upper arm. An injury at the next vertebral level (the
C6 vertebrae) may cause pain in the shoulder and
the arm, and it may also cause weakness in the
arm. And finally, an injury at the lowest level (the
C7 vertebrae) may cause pain from the neck all the
way down to the hand, along with weakness in the
arm and hand.