top of page


Cervical Radiculopathy (Arthritis, Muscular and Disc related)

Pain around the neck region which can affect both head and neck and restrict movements.

This can have both a gradual onset or a sudden onset if related to trauma (falls/road traffic accident).

Consult your Doctor

If you experience any of the following symptoms then please contact your doctor or GP:

  • Persistent, unexplained dizziness, nausea, and vomiting

  • Severe headaches

  • Feel feverish or generally unwell

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Double-vision.

  • Any violent trauma- e.g. fall from height/ road traffic accident

  • Have a history of Cancer

  • Problems with swallowing or speech

Signs & Symptoms

  • Symptoms of pain/weakness/burning discomfort which affect the arms and hands.

  • Sharp pain on movement of the neck.

  • Pins and needles (often at night) in the arms and hands.

  • Numbness.

  • Pain up the arm to the neck.

  • Weakness of grip.

  • Clumsiness when holding objects.

  • Easing of symptoms by shaking hands or tilting head away from painful side.

What Causes It?

  • Can be caused by pressure on the neck joints often due to poor posture, which then causes excess bony deposits (osteophytes) and some minor swelling to pinch on the nerves.

  • Can also be caused by a disc-prolapse (or “slipped disc”): the discs in-between the spinal levels (which are made out of jelly-like material) - pushing fluid like material out as they break due to pressure on them- your body has a very good ability to heal itself and the disc is constantly repairing and renewing itself. The fluid like material eventually dries up and is absorbed through your system.

  • Both the above causes can be are due to prolonged poor posture causing prolonged pressure on the spine.

  • If there is any acute trauma from a road traffic accident or fall, then muscles can also go into severe spasm pinching on nerves coming out of the neck.

  • Can be caused by abnormal neck positions- poor posture/ poor ergonomics (desk set-up) related- which can lead to strain on muscles around the neck.

How to Self Manage

  • Heat- hot water bottles/ heat packs around the neck to help relax muscles.

  • Ice (no direct ice to skin) can be used to treat severe pain ad swelling.

  • Gentle neck stretches and movements in all directions, but not to extremes.

  • Gentle chin tucks- keeping the head level and tucking the chin backwards- holding this for 5-10 seconds and repeating 5 times regularly throughout day.

  • Anti–inflammatory medication or painkillers are helpful to reduce pain and swelling.

  • Muscle relaxants with ease muscle spasm.

  • Use a pillow or 2 to bridge the gap between the head and shoulders if sleeping on your side- or a small pillow if sleeping on your back.

  • Refrain from using a neck collar.

  • Do not drive if you are severely restricted in moving your head or neck.


  • Most symptoms can be improved with conservative management (physiotherapy) if the injury has been present for less than 4-6 weeks- On most occasions symptoms improve very well with conservative management. The long-term prognosis of neck pain is generally also very good- people tend to recover very well.

  • If you have been experiencing pain/ pins and needles/ numbness/ weakness in hands and arms for more than 4-6 weeks- then please consult a doctor as you ma require an MRI scan.

  • Corticosteroid injections if conservative management is unsuccessful with help to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Surgery may also be indicated following an unsuccessful cortisone injection if symptoms of continuous pain, numbness, weakness and pins and needles have been affecting arms and hands.

  • If there is some long-term symptoms in the nerves which have been affected- doctors/ consultants can prescribe neuropathic pain medication- such as: Gabapentin, Amitriptyline, and Pregablin.

How Physio Helps

  • Assessment to establish if symptoms are being caused by joints or discs, or muscles pinching on nerves.

  • Soft tissue massage to release tight muscles, and muscle spasms causing pain.

  • Electrotherapies including ultrasound/ Acupuncture therapy to improve circulation reduce swelling.

  • Prescription of strengthening exercises to address muscle tightness and improve neck stability.

  • Nerve mobilisation to reduced tension on the nerves.

  • Provision of stretches and home exercises for rehabilitation to strengthen the neck and

  • Mobilisation techniques to take the pressure off the joints and discs.

  • Review of workplace/sporting ergonomics.


  • APTA (2017) Neck Pain: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability and health from the orthopaedic section of the American Physical Therapy Association. American Physical Therapy Association.

  • Cote, P. et al (2016) Management of neck pain and associated disorders: A clinical practice guideline from the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. European Spine Journal. Springer.

  • Kjaer, P. et al (2017) National clinical guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset neck pain or cervical radiculopathy. European Spine Journal. Springer.

  • Williams,N.H. and Hoving,J.L. (2004) Oxford textbook of primary medical care. In: Jones,R., Britten,N., Culpepper,L., Gass,D., Grol,R., Mant,D., Silagy,C. (Eds.) Neck pain.Oxford: Oxford University Press., 1111-1116.

For an online consultation click here
bottom of page