Cervical Myelopathy and Radiculopathy Treatments
The first line of treatment for cervical radiculopathy are often nonsurgical, including:
- Ergonomic adjustments for better posture and comfort at home or work
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines
- Ice or heat applied to the affected area
If your pain cannot be controlled, stronger medications may be used, including:
- Prescription anti-inflammatory medicines
- Muscle relaxants
- Narcotic painkillers
Additional treatments may include:
- Physical therapy: Therapy that emphasizes stretching and flexibility
- Occupational therapy: Therapy to show you how to perform routine tasks without excessive strain on your neck
- Epidural steroid injections: Injections in the neck to reduce inflammation and impact on the affected nerve
- Lifestyle changes: Avoiding behaviors and activities that might put greater strain on neck or spine
- Moderate strength-building exercises
Prolonged bed rest is usually not recommended, as it can make the symptoms worse over time.
In some cases, you may find nonsurgical treatments do not bring relief and surgery may be necessary to provide relief. There are two common approaches to surgery for myelopathy and radiculopathy:
- Anterior (frontal)
- Posterior (back)
Whether your surgeon uses the anterior or posterior approach depends on the precise location of your compression, as well as your overall health and the severity of your disorder.
With the anterior approach, a small incision is made in the front of your neck and tissues are carefully moved aside to give the surgeon access to the cervical vertebrae. The afflicted area will be repaired and, as necessary, bone or hardware (plates and screws) may be inserted to the space. You will likely be asked to wear a neck brace for a short period of time after surgery, to aid in recovery.
In the posterior approach, a small incision is made directly over the affected region and the impacted bone is removed to relieve pressure on the nerve(s).
In cases where there is compression in a wider area than simply the neck, other procedures, such as laminectomy or laminoplasty may be performed.