What is a Pinched Neck Nerve?

A pinched nerve in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) sends a signal to the brain that generates some level of pain and discomfort. Since the symptoms of a pinched nerve can mimic other conditions or affect more than just the neck area, knowing what to look for can help with eventual diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of a Pinched Neck Nerve

According to spine surgeons in Beverly Hills, pinched neck nerves can result from normal wear and tear of joints, muscles and tendons supporting the neck (often associated with age). In younger people, a pinched nerve is often the result of a sudden impact or movement. Conditions like disc herniation (disc material presses on neck nerves) or cervical spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck) can also place pressure on nerves in the neck.

Symptoms of a Pinched Neck Nerve

Symptoms associated with a pinched nerve can come on suddenly or become more intense over time, depending on what’s causing the pressure on the nerve. It can be difficult to link symptoms to a pinched nerve in the neck since pain is sometimes felt in the elbow, shoulders, hands, wrist or fingers. Any of the following symptoms may be a sign of a pinched nerve in the neck:

  • Radiating pain in other parts of the body
  • A “pins and needles” tingling feeling
  • Muscle weakness in the neck and shoulders
  • Loss of sensation (in the neck or affected areas like hands and fingers)
  • Sharp pain or discomfort (in the neck, upper back or shoulders)
  • Pain that suddenly appears (with certain movements or sleeping positions)

Treatments for a Pinched Neck Nerve

Most pinched neck pain responds well to conservative, non-surgical neck treatments. With pinched nerves in the neck caused by enduring a long car ride or making an unnatural neck movement, a little rest and some over-the-counter pain medications usually relieve the pain. Pinched nerves resulting from conditions like cervical spinal stenosis or disc degeneration, however, usually require more attention. Additional treatments may include:

  • Medications to relieve any related inflammation (when nerves are compressed between ligaments, tendons, or bones)
  • Application of heat or cold
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on nerves (as a last resort when conservative treatments aren’t working)

If a pinched nerve is affecting your daily life and conservative options have failed to relieve your pain, it might be time to schedule and in-person consultation with a physician at The Spine Institute Center. We take a comprehensive approach to spine health, offering conservative methods as well as procedures like anterior cervical discectomy and laminectomy. Call (310) 828-7757 today and take the first step for a pain-free life.