How Physical Therapy Helps Neck Radiculopathy

neck pain

How PT Reduce Neck Pain From A Pinched Nerve


Physical Therapy is an essential component of treatment for numerous conditions. Whether it’s recovering from an injury, enhancing flexibility and range of motion, boosting strength or improving balance and coordination, Physical Therapy can help you achieve your goals.

When it comes to neck radiculopathy, which is caused by compressed nerve roots in the spinal cord leading to pain down the arm, physical therapy is one of the most important treatment options to consider. Working in tandem with other therapies, it can provide significant relief, increase function, and contribute to a quicker recovery.

What to Expect at Physical Therapy

At your first physical therapy session for neck radiculopathy, your therapist will perform an initial assessment to evaluate your condition and come up with a plan to treat it. To personalize your treatment plan based on your requirements, the therapist will ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. These questions, along with tests such as range of motion (ROM) assessment, gait analysis, posture analysis, and muscle strength testing, will be conducted to determine which muscles are tight or weak, and areas that require extra attention during physical therapy.

This initial assessment plays a significant role in developing your specific treatment plan, which aims to alleviate pain and improve your quality of life. The personalized plan will include exercises, hands-on techniques, and other therapeutic interventions that will help you regain function, strength, and mobility while reducing symptoms. The physical therapist will monitor your progress and make adjustments to your treatment plan, as necessary, to ensure you achieve maximum benefits.

What Types of Exercises You Might Do

Exercise routines vary and typically involve specific stretching to address impairments. Stretching is a critical component in helping to improve flexibility in stiff muscles caused by reduced blood flow due to nerve compression. Strengthening exercises help to increase muscle mass and stability, while core exercises are utilized to support the spine and reduce stress on weak areas. Additional treatments such as massage, heat/cold therapy, and postural education can aid recovery but have limited research backing.

  • Chin tucks
  • Repeated motions
  • Nerve glides and stretches
  • Upper back strengthening
  • Arm strengthening exercises

Incorporating these exercises into your treatment plan can help focus on specific areas of your condition to improve your recovery.

How Long Recovery Takes

Recovery duration hinges on the severity of each case and how long the symptoms existed prior to seeking treatment. Post-treatment, patients should expect significant improvement within the first few weeks. Continued physical therapy and patient compliance with home exercises yield increased strength and an improved range of motion over time.

Patients who neglect physical therapy and generally don’t comply with their exercise programs may experience slower rehabilitation and less successful outcomes. It is important that patients communicate with their physician and physical therapist, keeping them up-to-date on any difficulties they have in following their recommended course of treatment. By working collaboratively with their healthcare team, patients improve their odds of a full recovery.


Neck radiculopathy can severely impact daily life due to pain and numbness, but physical therapy can help address it with personalized stretching, strengthening exercises, and other modalities. Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option that can make a great difference in your life.


Can physical therapy fix a pinched nerve in neck?

Yes, physical therapy can be an effective treatment for a pinched nerve in the neck. Physical therapy can help reduce symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness, and numbness by improving range of motion, strengthening neck muscles, and reducing compression on the affected nerve.

How effective is physical therapy for cervical radiculopathy?

Physical therapy can be very effective for treating cervical radiculopathy. It can help reduce pain and inflammation, improve flexibility and range of motion, and strengthen neck muscles. The effectiveness of physical therapy largely depends on the severity of the condition and the individual’s commitment to the routine.

How does physical therapy help radiculopathy?

Physical therapy can help radiculopathy by improving flexibility and range of motion, strengthening muscles that support the neck and spine, and reducing inflammation and compression on the affected nerve. Physical therapy can also teach the individual proper posture and body mechanics to prevent future episodes.

How does a physical therapist fix a pinched nerve?

A physical therapist fixes a pinched nerve by creating a customized treatment plan that may include exercises to improve range of motion and flexibility, strengthening exercises for neck muscles, massage therapy, and stretching techniques. The goal is to reduce compression on the affected nerve and improve overall neck function.

How long does physical therapy take for a pinched nerve in the neck?

The length of physical therapy for a pinched nerve in the neck varies depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s response to treatment. In some cases, significant improvement can be seen in just a few sessions, while others may require several months of consistent therapy.

What aggravates cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy symptoms can be aggravated by activities that involve repetitive neck motions, poor posture, carrying heavy bags, trauma to the neck, or even sleeping in an awkward position. It’s important to identify aggravating factors in order to minimize them.

What should you not do with cervical radiculopathy?

People with cervical radiculopathy should avoid carrying heavy bags, doing repetitive neck motions, and sleeping in awkward positions. They should also avoid high-impact activities that may worsen symptoms, such as contact sports or running. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

What are red flags for cervical radiculopathy?

Red flags for cervical radiculopathy include loss of sensation or strength on one side of the body, difficulty with bladder or bowel control, severe or progressive weakness, difficulty with coordination or balance, and neck pain that is not relieved by rest.

What are 4 of the main causes of cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by a herniated disc, a bone spur in the neck, degenerative disc disease, or trauma to the neck. Other potential causes include spinal stenosis, tumors, or infections.

Can an MRI show radiculopathy?

Yes, an MRI scan can show evidence of radiculopathy by revealing abnormalities in the spinal cord or the nerves that branch out from it. An MRI can also help identify the underlying cause of the condition, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur.


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5. Gupta, V., & Dhammi, I. K. (2015). Effectiveness of physical therapy in cervical radiculopathy: A narrative review of literature. International Journal Of Physiotherapy And Research, 3(3), 663–669