Possible cervical nerve compression and sickle cell trait

Patient

Q: What are the symptoms of nerve damage? Something is going on with me. My left arm, from my shoulder blades to my hand tingles, like its going to sleep, then escalates into a pain that is becoming increasingly intolerable. My friends say I may have a pinched nerve, but where? Or that I may have poor blood circulation due to sickel cell trait.

Doctor

A:    In the younger patients, cervical radiculopathy may be a result of a disc herniation or an acute injury causing impingement of an exiting nerve. In the older patient, cervical radiculopathy is often a result of spinal canal narrowing from bone (osteophyte) formation, decreased disc height and degenerative changes due to aging process. The treatment strategy usually includes: start a physical therapy program aimed to control pain and inflammation, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication (“motrin”, “aleve”), also you should have a re-education of habits and posture to improve your quality of life. You also should be independent in a stretching and strengthening program and continue with these exercises under the periodic supervision of a physical therapist initially and then completely on your own. If your condition fails to improve with a comprehensive rehabilitation program and selective injections, you may be considering a re-evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon to explore other treatment options more aggressive. Regarding the sickle cell trait usually is not regarded as a disease state because it has complications that are either uncommon or mild. Sickle cell trait (also known as being a carrier) occurs when a person has one gene for sickle hemoglobin and one gene for normal hemoglobin. Approximately one in ten African-Americans carries sickle cell trait. People who are carriers generally do not have any medical problems and lead normal lives. If you are a carrier you cannot develop sickle cell disease.

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