The majority of patients with cervical radiculopathy recover over time and without treatment. For some patients, the pain goes away relatively quickly and for some it may take days or even weeks.
It is common for cervical radiculopathy that has improved to return at some point in the future. When this occurs, it frequently improves without treatment.
However, there are cases where cervical radiculopathy does not improve. In such cases, patients require evaluation and a treatment protocol defined by a physician.
Initial treatment for cervical radiculopathy is nonsurgical. Nonsurgical treatment options include:
Soft cervical collar: This is a padded ring that wraps around the neck and is held in place with Velcro. The purpose of a soft cervical collar is to allow the muscles in the neck to rest while limiting the range of motion, decreasing the pinched nerve roots that accompany movement of the neck.
Physical therapy: Specific exercises can help relieve pain, strengthen neck muscles, and improve range of motion. In some cases, traction can be used to gently stretch the joints and muscles of the neck.
Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may provide relief if your pain is caused by nerve irritation or inflammation.
If after a period of time nonsurgical treatment does not relieve symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are several surgical procedures to treat cervical radiculopathy. The procedure your doctor recommends will depend on many factors, including the symptoms the patient experiences as well as the location of the nerve root.