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Pinched Nerve in Neck - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on January 2, 2014

What does a Pinched Nerve in Neck feel like?

Describing what a pinched nerve in neck feels can be complicated as it can feel different to everyone. There are a lot of different nerves in your body that are all working together to send messages back and forth to your brain and doing other motor functions. In order to know exactly what it feels like it would have to be determined which nerve it actually is. Even if you are not sure which nerve is causing the pinched nerve in your neck there will be pain that can range from mild to severe, at times it can be almost debilitating. You may also feel numbness. A pinched nerve in your neck can restrict you from doing many things. You can feel this pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling anywhere along the path of the pinched nerve and not just in your neck. A pinched nerve in neck can happen to any one of any age, race, or gender.

When a person has a pinched nerve in neck it means that the nerve is affected by excess pressure that is being applied to the nerve of the surrounding tissues. The nerve does not have to be in the neck in order for you to have a pinched nerve in neck.

Symptoms

  • Numbness or lack of sensation in a particular location where the nerve is pinched.
  • Having a sharp pain that radiates outward and the pain can be aggravated by yawning, coughing, sneezing, or even chewing.
  • Having a prickling or tingling sensation which is also referred to as pins and needles feeling
  • Neck pain that extends to your fingers and arm
  • During any type of movement you can experience severe discomfort
  • Pain in your back
  • In adjoining areas you may have muscle spasms
  • If you have any jerky or sudden movements of your neck the symptoms can get worse.
  • You may have the inability to move your head because of severe pain
  • Have a stiff neck
  • Pain with the barely moving your arm, neck, or hand
  • Muscle weakness.

Causes

  • Having poor posture
  • Having a slipped or herniated disc in your spinal column. These are pads that serve as cushions between your vertebrae and help to minimize the impact of movement on your spinal cord.
  • Sports activities
  • Being obese
  • Exercising the wrong way
  • Having physical and mental stress after doing a job that is repetitive
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Injury
  • Hobbies that are adventurous
  • Arthritis in your neck
  • Trauma because of an accident
  • Degenerative disc disease which is more prominent in the elderly but can happen to anyone regardless of age.
  • Compression or direct pressure that damages the nerve causing the nerve not to be able to correctly conduct its signal.
  • Bone spurs which is an outgrowth of bone that is pointy and tiny
  • Spinal stenosis which is a narrowing of your spinal canal. This is where the nerves pass through the spine.
  • Fibromyalgia

Treatment

When you have a pinched nerve in neck surgery is rarely needed. It is important to find out what is causing this pinched nerve in order to avoid any other complications now and in the future.

Some treatment options include:

  • The main part of treatment should include exercises for your pinched nerve in neck. You can do these exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist or trainer or your physician. The daily routines may include back exercises that focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles gradually in the area affected.
  • After doing these gentle exercises it is important that you get enough rest to your neck area.
  • Apply over-the-counter ointment for pain
  • Take over-the-counter medications to help with the pain or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Do not do any vigorous exercises
  • If the pain or condition is severe your physician may have you wear a neck support collar or a neck brace to help immobilize the area the is affected
  • With the treatments you should have physical therapy
  • To help reduce the inflammation and pain your physician may give your injections of corticosteroids
  • Apply a warm heating pad to the area for ten to fifteen minutes a few times during the day.
  • Improve your posture
  • Maintain a normal weight

If none of these works you may have to have minor surgery to help release the pressure on the nerve(s) that are affected but this is very rare to have this type of surgery. If the pinched nerve in neck is only there for a short period of time, there should be no permanent injury and the nerve will be able to function normally once the pressure is gone. If it is not cured within a few days you do have a risk of permanent damage to the nerve(s).

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    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Excellent article, my stress sticks in my neck resulting in a sore neck radiating up to create a headache. When it gets too bad I use a physiotherapist or chiropractor. Up, interesting and useful

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Ouch! I used to exercise with poor posture and it got me into trouble. Sometimes the simplest things like proper posture does a lot of magic.