Which medications are used in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy?

Updated: Oct 08, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for their effects on pain and inflammation. In cervical radiculopathy, much of the pain is secondary to inflammation of the nerve root, usually due to a mechanical irritation of the nerve. In general, 10-14 days of regular dosing of an NSAID is all that is needed to control the pain and inflammation in cervical radiculopathy.

Oral steroids have been used to reduce the associated inflammation from compression. No controlled study exists to support the use of oral steroids in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy; however, these agents have been found to be clinically useful. Doses as high as 60 mg daily for 7 days and continuing for 5 days have been used without evidence of adrenal suppression. Longer-term use is not recommended. Tricyclic antidepressants can be a useful adjunct in controlling radicular pain. Opioid medications are generally not necessary for pain relief, but these drugs can be used when other medications fail to provide adequate relief or if other agents are contraindicated. When opioid medications are prescribed, adequate doses and appropriate dosing schedules should be used.

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