Cervical chemical radiculitis describes a nerve pain condition in which irritating disc proteins contact sensitive neurological tissues in the neck. These proteins exist sealed in the nucleus of each intervertebral disc. However, as people suffer disc deterioration, due to age or injury, the annulus fibrosus can become compromised, leading the nucleus to shed its contents into the surrounding spinal anatomy. Chemical radiculitis in the neck can elicit a full range of symptomatic expressions in some patients, but may source no discomfort in others. The reasons for this are still largely speculative, but are usually thought to involve varying degrees of sensitivity to the causative chemicals inside the disc nucleus proteins.
This article will help patients to understand what chemical radiculitis is and how it may play a role in the creation of their neurological neck symptoms.
Cervical Chemical Radiculitis Facts
There is a known chemical, called tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is proven to be capable of causing various problems in healthy cells. It is well established that some neurological fibers are especially sensitive to exposure to TNF-A and might respond with pain or other problematic effects. However, it is also well documented that only some people seem to suffer any neck or back pain due to clear instances of TNF-A exposure to the neurological tissues of the neck. Meanwhile other patients might endure horrific symptomatic expressions which could not be explained through any other structural means.
As with many neck and back pain syndromes, it seems that the more science discovers, the less clear the evolution of pain becomes. The only thing doctors really can say for sure is that they still have so much to learn about why neck pain exists, why it becomes chronic and why it most commonly resists treatment.
Chemical Radiculitis Mechanism
TNF-A can reach sensitive nerve fibers which exist in the spinal cord or in any of the other neurological tissues which surround it. Most often, the structure theorized to suffer from chemical radiculitis is one of the spinal nerve roots.
Disc degeneration is inherent to the neck anatomy, with most of the middle cervical spinal levels demonstrating desiccation by the third to fourth decades of life. Meanwhile, intervertebral herniation is also incredibly commonplace in the neck, once again affecting the middle and lower levels of the backbone.
Both disc deterioration and herniation can cause the annulus fibrosus to lose structural integrity, allowing an annular tear to develop. This hole in the outer disc wall can allow the escape of nucleus proteins in a tiny flow or in a sudden spontaneous explosion of nucleus material. Regardless, if the proteins definitively contact nerve tissues, the possibility for chemical irritation exists.
Cervical Chemical Radiculitis Speculation
Chemical radiculitis is far from a certain diagnosis in virtually every patient. It is more of a working theory which often proves itself to be incorrect once appropriate treatment fails to bring about relief. Most cases of chemical nerve irritation can be located and treated effectively using flushing injections or even minimally invasive surgery. As long as the proteins are removed and the disc is sealed, the symptoms should stop. In some patients, this does occur, pointing towards accurate diagnosis. However, in many others, symptoms persist, often despite several changes in diagnosis and various targeted therapies.
For patients who are aware of a ruptured herniated disc or annular tear in the cervical anatomy, chemical radiculitis may be worth discussing with your physician. At least the treatments used are less invasive and damaging than most procedures used for significant intact herniations. However, even if radicular irritation has been proposed, always continue to take an active role in your care, and hold your diagnosticians accountable, especially if focused therapy fails to provide a cure, as expected.