Southeast Massachusetts Back and Spine Injury Accident Attorneys
The spine consists of a column of bones known as the vertebral column. The spinal cord runs through the vertebral column. These vertebrae protect the sensitive spinal cord. Nerves from the spinal cord travel outside the column of bones known as the vertebral column where they transmit signals to the rest of our body.
Cervical Radiculopathy is a symptom that results when one of the nerves located in the area of the cervical spine is disturbed or injured. Damaged to a cervical vertebrae or a cervical herniated disc can disturb surrounding nerves that carry signals to the rest of the body from the spinal cord. Nerve root damage in the cervical area can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the shoulders and arms. Sharp radiating pain into the shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, forearms and/or hands is the most common symptom of cervical radiculopathy. This is what is known as referred pain or symptoms as the injury to the nerves in the cervical spine area creates symptoms and pain in other parts of the body. The pain and numbness in the arms is referred from the injury to the nerves in the cervical spine area. In addition to pain, other symptoms include numbness, pins and needles and weakness.
The location of the symptoms largely depends on what nerve ending has been injured. For instance a damaged nerve ending located near the fourth and fifth cervical vertebra will usually refer symptoms of pain, numbness and weakness to the deltoid muscle in the upper arm or shoulder while a damaged nerve root located near the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae will refer symptoms of pain, weakness and numbness to the biceps and wrists down to the thumbs.
Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical radiculopathy is caused by nerve disruptions due to ruptured or bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spondylosis, foraminal stenosis, or any other injuries or conditions that can exert pressure on the surrounding nerves. Since degenerative conditions like arthritis develop over time with age they usually aren’t the cause of cervical radiculopathy in younger people. Trauma related injuries resulting in ruptured and bulging discs are the main cause of cervical radiculopathy in younger people. In some cases an MRI can reveal the extent of a herniated disc and it may even show the displaced or herniated disc material actually coming in contact with a particular nerve.
Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy Injuries
Unfortunately, most if the time cervical radiculopathy cannot be diagnosed with an MRI or X-ray alone. In order to diagnose cervical radiculopathy a doctor needs to know all the patient’s symptoms. It’s important for the patient to communicate all his or her symptoms. The doctor should ask the patient to actually point out what specific areas on the body are experiencing pain, numbness, weakness or pins and needles.
As discussed earlier the location of the symptoms indicates which nerve might be affected. An diagram of the human body sometimes used in order for the patient to pin point the exact location of the pain. The doctor should also inquire about any functional limitations the patient might have like if the patient cannot lift heavy objects above his or her head. With the clinical findings based on the examination and the objective findings from an X-ray or MRI the doctor can properly diagnose cervical radiculopathy and determine what is causing the nerve disruption leading to the cervical radiculopathy.
Our attorneys often represent clients with cervical radiculopathy resulting from ruptured discs caused in car accidents and motorcycle crashes. The main issue with cervical radiculopathy is that the injury might not be revealed until weeks or months after the accident. That is why it is important to undergo a thorough medical examination. Often times going to emergency room and taking an x-ray isn’t adequate. With older patients that have preexisting degenerative conditions in the spine it might be harder to show the accident and not the preexisting degenerative condition is the cause of the radicular symptoms.