Chronic neck, shoulder, and arm pain is a frequent complaint among aging adults, especially those who are affected by degenerative changes in their cervical spine, or neck joints. Cervical radiculopathy is one of the most common causes of ongoing neck, shoulder, and arm pain; it happens when a nerve rooted in the cervical spine becomes compressed, or pinched. With two convenient practice locations in Centennial and Wheat Ridge, Colorado, board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Itay Melamed of Advanced Brain & Spine provides comprehensive care for Denver-area patients with cervical radiculopathy. If you’d like to learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
Cervical stenosis with radiculopathy — known simply as cervical radiculopathy — is a common condition that usually develops from the normal wear-and-tear of daily use. Virtually everyone over the age of 40 experiences some type of degenerative change, and these natural changes tend to become more apparent with age.
Patients with cervical radiculopathy don’t always experience the type or severity of symptoms that warrant treatment.
When cervical radiculopathy does cause symptoms, however, it’s usually in the form of shooting pain, numbness, or weakness that radiates from your neck, through your shoulder, down your arm, and possibly into your hand.
Although cervical radiculopathy generally affects just one side of the body, it can also affect both sides concurrently.
Dr. Melamed recommends conservative treatment measures, whenever possible, for patients with cervical radiculopathy. These effective, non-invasive methods may include a physical therapy program that emphasizes specific neck exercises and stretches, massage therapy, chiropractic care, neuropathic pain medication such as pregabalin or gabapentin, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications.
The mainstay of conservative treatment is time: In time, the inflammation that surrounds the nerve and causes pain will, for many patients, eventually go away. For patients whose pain doesn’t respond to conservative methods, however, surgery may be the best option.
Dr. Melamed and the team at Advanced Brain & Spine are proud to offer several surgical treatment options for patients with persistent cervical radiculopathy.
The tried-and-true method used to fix degenerative changes in the neck is through an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedure. This common surgery, which has a good rate of success, requires Dr. Melamed to remove the entire disc, replace it with graft material, and fix the material in place with a plate and screws.
Another option, called decompression, simply removes whatever structure is compressing the nerve. This surgery can be done either from the front, by way of an anterior foraminotomy, or from the back, by way of a posterior foraminotomy. Dr. Melamed can perform both of these techniques using a minimally invasive endoscopic approach.
For appropriate candidates, artificial disc replacement is an additional option. This newer surgery hasn’t been around as long as the ACDF procedure, although the two are similar.
The major difference is that an artificial disc replacement doesn’t require fusion, which helps preserve joint motion. Artificial disc replacement is safe and effective, and even has been shown to be superior to the traditional ACDF technique for certain patients.