A pinched nerve in the neck can be a real pain… in the neck! Cervical compressed nerves are quite common, since the neck is an area that must flex and bend often. All this activity can make the cervical spine a common place to suffer a herniated disc or arthritis. These, and other structural concerns, can all contribute to neuralgia conditions in the neck.
The cervical spine is also an area which can be affected by abnormal spinal curvatures, mostly in the form of exaggerated or markedly decreased lordosis. Vertebral misalignment, such as spondylolisthesis, is also possible to see in the cervical region, especially in older adults who have suffered drastic deterioration of the spinal joints and subsequent spondylolysis.
This treatise explores cervical pinched nerves, including their causes, symptoms and recommendations for treatment.
Typical symptoms of a cervical pinched nerve may include any or all of the following expressions:
Neck pain is most commonly experienced when compression first commences. Chronic pain is unlikely, since the nerve should cease signalling distress all together with time and simply go numb.
Tingling in the arms, hands and fingers is common when impingement first begins. Tingling should fade to numbness progressively over time as compression continues.
Numbness in the arms, shoulders or hands may occur immediately, but more commonly develops over days or weeks of ongoing compression.
Weakness in the shoulders, arms and hands will usually be the last result after objective numbness takes over. Motor deficits will likely occur in affected areas.
The areas affected by the pinched nerve will vary from patient to patient. Some might experience just localized pain. Some might experience a variety of symptoms in the upper arms and shoulders. Others might have radiating symptoms in the hands and wrists.
Specific symptoms will be determined by the actual nerve that is affected. The severity of symptoms will be controlled by the extent and duration of the nerve compression.
Some nerve compression issues in the neck are transitory and will heal without treatment. Allow time for the problem to heal before considering any moderate or drastic therapy modalities. Nerves are sensitive. They might experience symptoms for a few weeks from a minor compression. If you still have pain after several weeks, start to think about your pinched nerve treatment options more seriously.
I have suffered a few pinched nerves in the neck from martial arts training when I as much younger. Once, I remember losing feeling in one of my hands for almost a week! I never had a chronic neck pain condition during these years, so I never really worried about it. I simply blamed my pain on traumatic activity and let the nerves heal on their own. This approach seemed to work fine, since it did not allow stress, worry and anxiety to cause a psychogenic back pain syndrome to develop.
Chiropractic seemed to help this condition more than most other treatments I have tried in the past. The main reason my pinched cervical nerves healed quickly was that I did not worry too much about them. I never gave them the power to develop into a chronic pain condition. I wish I could have learned this concept earlier. It might have saved me from 18 years of lower back pain.
Now, I find myself suffering from far more numerous and severe spinal issues, including all of my cervical discs being herniated. One disc makes for a terrifying image on my diagnostic imaging. It really displaces the spinal cord and several have been suspected of causing cord and/or nerve symptoms which have now taken over large areas of my body. I try not to worry too much about these disc issues, since I do not have much hope for successful treatment. I do find that the mindbody contributors are still very present in my own pain expression. When tense or cold, the neck and shoulder muscles tighten up and really exacerbate my suffering. If I can remain calm, relaxed and warm, I generally feel quite a bit better. Not well; but better.