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Q. My arm has become stiff due to cervical spondylosis. How to get it treated?

Answered by
Dr. Chandan Mohanty
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 13, 2017

Hi doctor,

I am 55 years old. I have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis due to wear and tear on my dehydrated spinal discs. My pain is in my neck and arm. I have occasional fever and night sweats. I am already using a cervical collar for a week now. I am using hard collar during the day and soft collar at night. I am undergoing physiotherapy which includes infrared ray treatment and neck traction. Until two weeks ago, I used to swim 30 minutes a day for five days of a week. However, the biggest challenge I am facing now is my left arm. My left arm is so weak and stiff. I cannot raise my left arm up and across while sitting. It can be done only when I am lying down. I had chronic fatigue syndrome about 10 years ago and recovered significantly. My current medication includes Lyrica 75 mg, Tramadol BP 50 mg and Clofenac 50 mg. Could you give an indication how long my recovery will take? 

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Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • Sorry to hear about your condition. Your symptoms match with the diagnosis of cervical spondylosis.
  • Unfortunately, along with neck pain and arm pain you also seem to have developed weakness of your left arm due to pressure on your nerves in the neck.
  • Physiotherapy is a reasonable option, but you should also consult a neurosurgeon since arm weakness has to be treated early else it may become irreversible if left alone for a long time.
  • The neurosurgeon may also get an MRI of your cervical spine to locate the cause and site of your symptoms in a precise manner. Wish you a speedy recovery.

For further information consult a neurologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist

Hi doctor,

Thanks for your response. I am actually consulting with an orthopedic spine surgeon. I was advised that there is no real difference between a consultant neurologist and a consultant orthopedic spine surgeon. He confirmed the diagnosis through the cervical spine x-ray. He also asked me to do a shoulder x-ray and the results confirmed that I have no problem in that area. However, I plan to see him with the request of an MRI.

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Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

  • Yes, once there is weakness in the hands it is better to do an MRI to look for the exact site of the nerve compression.
  • Please follow the advice of the surgeon. I wish you a speedy recovery.

For further information consult a neurologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist

Hi doctor,

My orthopedic surgeon has suggested me to continue the physiotherapy for the next three weeks. If there is no improvement then he will recommend me to go for surgery. Do you offer surgery? On clinical review, I was noted to have limitation in the range of movement of the cervical spine particularly left and right lateral rotation and extension. There is weakness in the muscle groups of left shoulder and elbow. Grip in both hands is good with power 5 in muscle groups. Radiographs of the cervical spine showed cervical spondylosis C4-C7. Radiographs of left shoulder showed no bony pathology. I was advised to undergo MRI scan vertical spine. This showed marked thecal indentation and foramina stenosis between C4-C6. Indentation and stenosis was most marked between C4-C5 levels. I am currently on NSAID (Naproxen) and muscle analgesic (Norflex). I have also been advised that if there is no improvement in three weeks of the above treatment regimen then to opt for surgical decompression.

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Hello,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Good to hear from you.

  • As I suspected the MRI does show compression of the nerves in the cervical spine (neck), trying physiotherapy for three weeks with NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and other medications is a very reasonable option.
  • As far as surgery is concerned, depending on your MRI the appropriate route of surgery can be decided. The surgery can be either from the front (anterior) or from the back (posterior) of the neck.
  • Hopefully, if your weakness recovers with these medications then you may not need surgery. Please keep me informed about your progress.

For further information consult a neurologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist


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