What Is Cervical Neuritis?
Cervical Neuritis is the name given to a medical condition in which there is irritation or impingement of the nerves of the cervical spine. Cervical Neuritis gets its name due to the radiating and radicular nature of the symptoms. The spinal nerve roots are responsible for sending signals which facilitate all motor and sensory functions of the body hence if there is irritation or impingement of these nerves the affected individual feels pain all along the path of the nerve. Some of the symptoms of Cervical Neuritis is radiating and shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness affecting the neck, thoracic spine, shoulders, hands and sometimes even the fingers.
What Causes Cervical Neuritis?
Cervical Neuritis usually occurs due to a structural anomaly in the cervical vertebra or the intervertebral disc of the cervical spine resulting in compression of the nerve roots of the cervical spine. Some of the examples of such structural abnormality are disc herniation, disc bulging, bone spur formation, as well as spondylolisthesis. These conditions can also develop due to a trauma to the cervical spine usually they are caused due to degeneration of spine as a result of age, wear and tear of the spine due to overuse, poor sitting posture resulting in compression of the nerves. Genetics also play a role in degeneration of the spine. Smokers are at increased risk for spinal degeneration. Obesity is also one of the causes of Cervical Neuritis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cervical Neuritis?
Cervical Neuritis as stated is caused due to compression of the cervical nerves when the spinal disc presses on the nerves which connect to the spinal cord. Depending on which part of the disc is affected and the nerves involved the patient may experience pain in arms, chest, neck, or shoulders. Some of the other symptoms are numbness in the fingers and muscle weakness in the chest and arms.
How Is Cervical Neuritis Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Cervical Neuritis the treating physician will start by taking a detailed history of the patient inquiring as to when the symptoms started. The physician will also conduct a physical examination of the cervical spine checking the range of motion of the cervical spine to see if it is reduced. The physician will also check whether the patient experiences any pain with range of motion. The physician will also inspect the area looking for areas of tenderness or pain in the cervical spine. Once a neuritis is suspected, the most preferred way to confirmatively diagnose the condition is to conduct radiological studies in the form of x-rays and MRI or CT scan to look at the structures of the cervical spine which will accurately show whether any nerves in the cervical spine are compressed or not.
How Is Cervical Neuritis Treated?
Majority of cases of Cervical Neuritis can be treated conservatively by physical therapy, activity modification so that the cervical spine gets adequate rest, pain medications in the form of NSAIDs like Tylenol and ibuprofen. Physical therapy will include exercises to improve strength of the muscles of the cervical spine, improve stability of the spine, and also improve range of motion and flexibility. Using a combination of the above mentioned approaches the patient may experience relief from the symptoms of Cervical Neuritis. Also it is important to maintain good posture while sitting at all times so that there is no flare up of symptoms of Cervical Neuritis. In some cases, minimally invasive surgery may also be done to relieve pressure off of the nerves of the cervical spine for relief of symptoms of Cervical Neuritis.