I'm 41 years old and suffering from what looks like cervical radiculopathy that radiates from C5-C6 nerve root down the left arm; C6-C7 down the right arm. There are herniated discs at these points. Also, severe foraminal shortening. My symptoms began two months ago: aching back and shoulders; numbness in the hands, particularly in the fourth and fifth fingers; aching along the ulnar nerve path, elbow and wrists; weakness in the left triceps; weakness in the hands. No real pain in the arms, but a sort of pulling at the elbows and fingers if I keep my forearms flexed at more than 90 degrees. After the course of steroids, I started PT.
PT has overall been effective. My grip is strong now; most of my arm muscles are strong. However, I continue to worry that the diagnosis is not correct. I mean, the MRI supports cervical radiculopathy, but tricep weakness in the left arm doesn't match the C5-C6 nerve root problems on that side. The PT thinks the weakness is a 4+ on the left side, so not bad. But it hasn't improved in the last couple of weeks, maybe become a little worse. The other thing that is odd is the overlapping ulnar nerve/carpal tunnel symptoms. I can get relief in these areas by doing chin tucks and lateral neck stretches, but I'm wary of diagnoses of radiculopathy, ulnar compression and carpal tunnel: the last two are bilateral sometimes. Such a bundle of diagnoses could signal some other, more systemic problem, I think. Could these issues all be related to nerve compression at the shoulders? Neck?
My neurologist described the most recent clinical exam as totally clean except for ulnar compression and carpal tunnel. He's recommended that I continue with PT and wear wrist/ elbow braces at night.
The triceps weakness bothers me. It's slight and I don't notice it in daily life (unlike the ulnar pull which does make it tough to hold plates or the phone). Do I need to see a neurosurgeon? Should I wait until the triceps weakness becomes more significant? Continue to work with the PT?
Any thoughts on what I can do with the ulnar issue? Do other folks here experience ulnar nerve issues over top of their radiculopathies? What treatment have you gotten for those issues?
I'd appreciate any of your thoughts.