What is the natural history of cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy most commonly results from nerve root compression due to a herniated disc and/or cervical spondylosis. In most cases there is no preceding trauma. Patients commonly present with neck pain, headache, and sharp pain radiating to the upper extremity in a dermatomal distribution. Neck movement, cough, and Valsalva maneuvers tend to exacerbate pain symptoms. Numbness and paresthesias occur most commonly in the distal part of the involved dermatome. Patients may present with weakness of upper extremity muscles, depending on the specific nerve root that is affected. Other patients present with chronic neck pain, limited neck range of motion, and arm weakness. The majority of patients (70%-80%) improve within several weeks. Patients with progressive or persistent neurologic weakness, myelopathy, or intractable pain should be referred for surgical evaluation.

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