What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy is a distressing condition characterized by pain in the cervical spine, which is caused by the compression of a nerve that exits from the spinal cord. If you're experiencing unbearable pain in the cervical area of your neck, or you're feeling radiating pain from your shoulders down to your arms, this may be an indication of nerve irritation arising from the nerves that branch away from your spinal cord.

The cervical spine is composed of a series of vertebrae arranged in a stacked manner. The vertebrae are designed to be flexible, allowing for a wide range of motion in the back. To provide cushioning and shock absorption, intervertebral discs are positioned between these bones. Additionally, spinal nerves that carry messages to and from the brain emerge from the spine through small openings located in the vertebrae.

Structural changes resulting from injury or deterioration in the cervical spine can cause compression of the exiting nerves, leading to inflammation and irritation that result in pain and other symptoms. At the Neuro Spine & Pain Center, our team of pain management specialists offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment options for conditions affecting the spine, including cervical radiculopathy.


Radiculopathy symptoms typically begin when there is compression or irritation of a nerve root in the spinal cord. The symptoms experienced by an individual may vary depending on which nerve root is affected and the severity of the compression. It radiates from neck and affects nearby regions including arms, shoulders and hands. Functioning of these regions is affected depending on the severity of nerve compression. Some common signs and symptoms of radiculopathy include:


A sharp, shooting pain, or burning sensation. The pain may be localized to one area or may radiate down the arm or leg, following the path of the affected nerve.

Numbness or Tingling

Individuals with radiculopathy may experience numbness or tingling in the area served by the affected nerve root. This may be accompanied by a loss of sensation or a feeling of pins and needles.


Compression of the nerve root can cause muscle weakness in the affected limb, making it difficult to perform certain movements or tasks.

Occipital Headaches

The condition is characterized by pain just above the back of the neck.


Radiculopathy may be a result of a variety of causes. These include:

  • Herniated or bulging discs in the spine that compress the nerve roots.
  • Degenerative disc condition that causes changes in the spine, such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, or spondylolisthesis. The condition can cause within bone spurs inside the foramen opening of vertebrae.
  • Tumors or growths that put pressure on the nerve roots.

Diagnosing Radiculopathy

Our experts undertake a thorough physical assessment to diagnose radiculopathy, which encompasses observing any discomfort experienced during sitting, evaluating for coughing and examining for any indicators of arm or leg weakness, numbness or tingling in the back or leg, reflex changes, or hypersensitivity pain in the arm or shoulder. They also consider medical history and any aggravating symptoms that may be present, such as pain that intensifies with neck or head movement.

As part of our diagnostic protocol, we may conduct specialized tests or scans to supplement the physical examination. These may include X-rays to evaluate bone alignment and disc narrowing, MRI scans to obtain detailed soft-tissue and nerve root images of the spinal cord, and CT scans to scrutinize fine bone details. Furthermore, we may use electromyography and nerve conduction studies to identify the underlying cause of the issue, whether it is neurological or muscular.

Radiculopathy Specialists Key West

Due to the diverse etiology of radiculopathy, seeking specialized treatment from an expert who can accurately diagnose and address the underlying issue is crucial. At the Center for Neuro Spine & Pain Center in Key West, we offer comprehensive solutions for pinched nerves. Our team of physicians adopts a collaborative approach to managing back and neck pain, ensuring a holistic spectrum of care from initial evaluation through to treatment and rehabilitation.

Best Spine Surgeons and Pain Specialists

Dr. William Schnapp

Board-certified Neurologist

Dr. Jon Gottlieb

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Dr. Doug Hollern

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Jorge Lerma, ARNP


chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram