Cervical Problems and The Role of Physio

The cervical spine is the technical name for the vertebrae that make up your neck.  You may experience radicular neck pain (pain which radiates along the nerves in your neck) or myelopathy (spinal cord) problems in this area.  Consultants such as Mr Jason Harvey, commonly deal with patients suffering from radiculopathy.  This is set of conditions in which one or more nerves are affected and do not work properly.  You can suffer from general symptoms such as radicular pain, weakness, numbness, or difficulty controlling specific muscles.

The most common cervical spine levels that are affected are C5/6 and C6/7 (the first vertebrae that make up the spine) due to them being the most mobile joints in your neck.  Specific symptoms for these levels are:

  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • rotator cuff weakness (the muscles and tendons in your shoulder)
  • shoulder impingement
  • frozen shoulder (where the shoulder becomes painful and stiff)
  • referred neck pain (from other parts of the body)
  • median nerve compression (which may affect your ability to grip with your hands)
  • double crush injury (neck pain with carpal tunnel syndrome which can cause pain, numbness and a tingling in the hand and fingers).

Consultants will use MRI scans, X-rays, nerve block injections and ultrasounds to assist with diagnosing cervical problems, as well as a stage treatment approach of physiotherapy and analgesia (pain relief), followed by injection therapy.  Surgery will be used once all conservative management has been exhausted.  There are two different surgeries that they will consider: cervical discectomy and fusion or cervical disc replacement.  The latter will require physiotherapy afterwards to regain full range of movement and stability around your neck.

For more information on common conditions that affect the spine, and options for treatment, please visit www.spineinfo.co.uk.

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