Radicular syndrome in the cervical spine area

Do you feel pain in the area of the cervical spine, and at the same time you feel unpleasant burning or tingling sensation in your arms? If yes, pay attention it can be root syndrome of the cervical spine therefore you should visit a doctor or physiotherapist.

Radicular (root) syndrome forms on the basis of pressed nerve root in the intervertebral space, for example during damaged intervertebral disc, bone spur in the intervertebral space or narrowed spinal canal. Specific root of the spinal cord can be damaged (the roots are in pair on both left and right side of the body), but usually only one side gets affected more. The pressure is often resulting from long-term degenerative changes (ageing of the organism, long-term overload, microtrauma), which usually happens by older patients. Isolated disability of one root caused by intervertebral disc herniation is then affecting younger people.


People usually feel sharp pain in the cervical spine (pain can also appear in the upper part of the chest) and their sensitivity is rendered (lowered/ less often increased compared to the other side of the body) in the area of neck and arm. Which area will be affected depends on which nerve root will be affected (each nerve root is supplying different part of the arm). Most frequent disorders are: sensitivity in the shoulder area, arm, forearm or fingers. Another element which can be observed is a certain weakness of the arm resulting from weakened muscles, that are supplied by the affected nerve root.


  • Spinal disc herniation
  • Spondylosis (non-inflammatory illness of the intervertebral discs which lose their flexibility
  • Cancer, injury (often osteoporosis), inflammation of the spine or intervertebral discs
  • Metabolic (diabetes) or infectious (borreliosis) diseases


The most important thing before starting the rehabilitation is a complexive kinesiological examination, according to which physiotherapist will determine whether the problem is radicular syndrome of the cervical spine or not. The symptoms mentioned above are usually identical with other syndromes (cervicobrachial syndrome) and without examination it can’t be unambiguously determined whether it is radicular syndrome or not. Manual therapy is usually applied after the diagnosis, various methods and concepts can be used (for example: mechanical therapy according to McKenzie, acral coactivation therapy according to Špringrová, DNS method according to Dr. Kolář, mobilization techniques according to Dr. Lewit) you can also increase the effectivity of the treatment with application of focused or radial shock wave therapy for a faster relief from pain.

Example of exercises during pain of the cervical spine:

  • First aid - pain in the neck and nape
  • Exercising during neck and nape pain
  • Exercising during neck and nape pain with assistance of a second person
  • Exercises treating pain the neck and nape with equipment tool

Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Sources: KOLÁŘ, P. a kol. Rehabilitace v klinické praxi. 1. vyd. Praha: Galén, 2009, 713 s. ISBN 978­80­7262­657­1
BEDNAŘÍK, J. Kořenové syndromy: klinika, diagnostika [online]. 2007­11­09 [cit. 2015­09­16]. Available from: http://www.fnbrno.cz/data/files/NK/Postgradu%C3%A1ln%C3%AD%20kurs%20Vertebrologie%20Ko%C5%99enov%C3%A9%20syndromy.pdf

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