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Cervical Radiculopathy Follow-up

  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
 
Updated: Oct 08, 2015
 

Return to Play

Criteria for return to play are absence of pain, a full pain-free ROM, a negative Spurling test, and a normal neurologic examination. A neck roll should be properly fitted and used in athletes at risk for a repeat injury (eg, a middle linebacker in football).

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Complications

Complications include incomplete neurologic recovery, loss of full cervical ROM, and radiographic changes that indicate disc-space narrowing, persistent loss of normal cervical lordosis, and/or osteophyte formation.

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Prevention

Some injuries can be prevented by using good technique (eg, when tackling an opponent in football, breathing properly when swimming). Proper head positioning may also be of benefit by stretching the anterior muscles of the neck and chest (ie, the anterior scalenes, pectoralis muscles) and strengthening the scapular muscles. Neck strengthening, including some eccentric strengthening exercises, may be helpful in providing muscular control of the neck.

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Prognosis

The prognosis for patients with cervical radiculopathy is excellent, with proper treatment. Nonoperative treatment is effective in 80-90% of patients. Surgery is indicated when nonoperative treatment has failed. The time frame for this decision depends on the ability of the patient to progress through the various phases of rehabilitation (see Treatment, Acute Phase, Recovery Phase, and Maintenance Phase).

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Education

Proper sport technique is usually of great importance in the prevention and rehabilitation of many cervical radiculopathies. This includes a proper ball toss in tennis, a proper body turn in swimming, and proper head positioning when tackling in football.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Gerard A Malanga, MD Founder and Partner, New Jersey Sports Medicine, LLC and New Jersey Regenerative Institute; Director of Research, Atlantic Health; Clinical Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School; Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine

Gerard A Malanga, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, North American Spine Society, International Spine Intervention Society, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Cephalon for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Endo for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Genzyme for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Prostakan for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Pfizer for speaking and teaching.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Sherwin SW Ho, MD Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Section of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine

Sherwin SW Ho, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Arthroscopy Association of North America, Herodicus Society, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Biomet, Inc. for speaking and teaching; Received grant/research funds from Smith and Nephew for fellowship funding; Received grant/research funds from DJ Ortho for course funding; Received grant/research funds from Athletico Physical Therapy for course, research funding; Received royalty from Biomet, Inc. for consulting.

Additional Contributors

Janos P Ertl, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine; Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Wishard Hospital; Chief, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy, Indiana University School of Medicine

Janos P Ertl, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, Hungarian Medical Association of America, Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Michael A Romello, MD Staff Physician, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Sagittal magnetic resonance image of the cervical spine. This image reveals a C6-C7 herniated nucleus pulposus.
Axial magnetic resonance image of the cervical spine. This image reveals a C6-C7 herniated nucleus pulposus.
 
 
 
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