Cervical radiculopathy, caused by pressure on the nerves in the neck area, can be painful and debilitating. Pain relief is possible with the correct care and exercises. The goal of exercising your cervical area is to relieve pressure on the nerves and restore mobility and flexibility.
Therapy Ball Exercises
If you belong to a gym, you've probably seen people use therapy balls, which are also called stability balls or Swiss balls. These large, inflatable balls are used for many strengthening, flexibility and rehabilitative exercises. One of the simplest exercises you can do is to sit on the therapy ball and lightly bounce for five minutes. The bounce should be gentle enough that you do not come up off the ball. This exercise helps your enter back, including the cervical spine. Your spinal discs do not receive blood flow, so each disc stores oxygen and nutrients. The only means to provide oxygen and nutrients is from physical actions. Therapy ball exercises provide the required oxygen and nutrients by physically pumping them into your discs all the way up your spine.
Restoring flexibility is important in treating cervical radiculopathy. Tight muscles cause stiffness and lead to pressure on the nerves. Stretching exercises increase flexibility and reduce this nerve pressure. According to Orthopaedic Surgeon, a website run by New Zealand spine surgeon Dr.Greg Finch, your doctor might prescribe cervical traction or other physical therapy like hot or cold packs, electrical muscle stimulation, isometrics and stretching exercises. To perform cervical stretches, start in a sitting position. Slowly bend your head toward your chest. Place your hand on the back of your head and gently push forward until you feel a stretch, hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat this three times. Perform this same maneuver with your head bent toward your back, then towards each of your shoulders.
Isometric exercises allow muscle strengthening while limiting joint movement. Resistance provided by exerting force against a relatively stationary object improves muscle strength without risking nerve irritation from excessive movement. According to the Center for Orthopedic and Sports Excellence, exercises producing motion of the neck can aggravate pain and muscle spasms. Isometric neck exercises strengthen the neck without irritating the soft tissues or joints of the cervical area. To perform neck isometrics, start in a seated position. Bend your head forward and place your hand on the back of your head. Slowly raise your head and push against your hand. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat three times. As with the neck stretches, repeat the maneuver in the other three directions.