BACK TO BLOG March 19, 2018

What Is Radiculopathy?

Often times, individuals involved in car wrecks experience a pervasive numbness and shooting pain in their extremities, typically their arms and hands. This condition is called radiculopathy, and it is incredibly common among victims of automotive collisions. Radiculopathy is brought on by compression and trauma to the cervical vertebrae, which in turn affects the nervous system. If left uncorrected, the symptoms of radiculopathy can last for years and drastically reduce a person’s quality of life.

The frequent occurrence of radiculopathy in car wreck victims is due in large part to the nature of the injuries associated with most auto accidents. The force of a collision, coupled with the resistant inertia of a seatbelt, causes substantial strain and torque on the spine during the course of the wreck. This leads to the compressed or “pinched” nerves and vertebrae that cause cervical radiculopathy.

The specific symptoms of radiculopathy have been linked to particular vertebrae. For instance, trauma to the C5 vertebrae has been shown to cause radiating pain and numbness in the upper arms and shoulders. Similarly, radiculopathy of the C6 vertebrae results in pain from the elbow down through the hands, particularly the index finger. According to The Spine Journal, a publication of the North American Spine Society, radiculopathy is most common in the C7 vertebrae, located at the base of the neck. Symptoms of C7 radiculopathy include neck pain, and pain throughout the entire arm all the way through the middle finger.

Symptoms of radiculopathy are not always readily apparent. If you have been involved in a car wreck and experience pain or numbness in your neck or any of your extremities, it is imperative to seek medical attention right away. If you are already represented by a car accident attorney, talk to your attorney about your symptoms as well. Radiculopathy will not go away on its own and requires a thorough course of medical treatment. Mild cases of radiculopathy can be treated through physical therapy and immobilization, while more severe cases may require surgery.