Arm Pain/Cervical Radiculopathy

Understanding Arm Pain

Resolving Cervical Radiculopahty with Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique

Cervical Radiculopathy is a common neuro-musculoskeletal condition that results in symptoms such as pain, burning, numbness, weakness, or ‘pins-and-needles’ into the shoulder, arm, and often into the hand.  This is a painful, sometimes debilitating condition that is often slow to respond to traditional types of treatment. Fortunately, Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well-researched therapies for treating Arm Pain and Cervical Spine problems.  In fact, Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available.  But before we talk about how Cox Technique works so effectively, it is helpful to first discuss how problems in the neck can lead to arm pain.

Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for treating Neck and Arm Pain, and can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available.

Cervical Nerve Roots – The Source of Arm Pain

As the spinal cord descends within the spinal canal – a long opening that runs down the centre of the spinal column – it gives off small nerve branches.  These branches, or nerve roots, then exit through small holes on the side of the spine known as intervertebral foramen. As the nerve roots leave the neck they travel downward to pass below the collarbone and then into the arm all the way to the hand.  If any of these cervical nerve roots become compressed or pinched as they leave the neck they will become inflamed and irritated, resulting in symptoms into the arm. By far, the most common source of nerve root irritation is a cervical disc herniation.

Cervical Disc Herniation

Between each cervical vertebrae is a soft, circular pad known as an intervertebral disc.  These discs act as spacers between each vertebrae and make the spine more flexible.  Each disc contains two parts.  The central, inner aspect of the disc, known as the Nucleus Pulposis, consists of a free-flowing jelly-like substance. The outer layer of the disc is known as the Annulus Fibrosis. It consists of several layers of thin, circular, ligamentous bands which wrap concentrically around the free-flowing nucleus.  Under normal circumstances, the outer Annulus of the disc acts to hold the nucleus within the centre of the disc as the spine moves. However, if the Annulus becomes weak or damaged it cannot properly contain the Nucleus. Instead, as the disc become weaker it will bulge or herniated, a situation which results in the outer border of the disc extending beyond the edge of the vertebral body and into the spinal canal and/or the intervertebral foramen.  The disc herniation will it turn compress and irritate the cervical nerves as they exit the neck, causing the characteristic arm symptoms associated with a cervical disc herniation/cervical radiculopathy.  With a cervical disc herniation it is not uncommon for the arm pain to be worse than the neck pain. In many circumstances there is little to no pain in the neck at all.

Resolving Arm Pain with Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique

Fortunately, most cases of Cervical Radiculopathy respond well to conservative care and do not require surgery. However, it is important that these conditions are managed properly to both control pain and prevent any serious or long-term problems.  One of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for Cervical Radiculopathy is a treatment technique known as Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique.

Research studies reported that 80% of disc herniations in the cervical and lumbar spine were helped by flexion-distraction adjustment, with 63% of cases demonstrating a significant reduction in the size of the herniation on follow-up MRI imaging.

Here’s how Cox Technique works…

Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the spine. With the patient lying face down on the table, the headpiece of the table can be slowly pulled down and away. This motion lengthens the cervical portion of the spine, which pulls the vertebrae away from each other and acts to “decompress” the damaged disc. As the spine stretches the doctor is able to focus the decompres¬sion at the specific level of the damaged disc by applying a focal pressure to the damaged area with a specialized hand contact. The ability to direct the distraction effect to the exact level of the irritated nerve root makes Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment more effec¬tive than traditional distraction therapies or cervical traction devices which apply only a general traction, and do not provide feedback to doctor with respect to the health of the disc and cervical joints. Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 seconds. This process is usually repeated three to four times.

The decompression of the damaged disc achieved with Cox Flexion-Distraction has a number of important effects which help to reduce pain and promote healing of the damaged disc and spinal nerve. For example, this procedure has been shown to dramatically reduce pressure with the intervertebral disc which reduces pain and stimulates healing of the damaged disc.  This reduction in intra-discal pressure also creates a vacuum effect within the disc which acts to pull the herniated Nucleus back towards the centre of the disc.  This reduces the size of the disc herniation and reduces pressure on the adjacent cervical nerve nerve roots (remember it is the bulging/herniated disc that is compressing the nerve root and creating the symptoms into the neck and arm).

An example of Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment for the cervical spine. The doctor applies a gentle hand contact on the neck while the headpiece moves down and away to decompress the disc and restore proper mobility to the spinal joints.

Get Relief with Cox Technique

To book an appointment to see if Cox Flexion-Distraction will be able to help with your arm or neck problem simply call our office at (902) 407-7207. For more information send us an email at