Neck Pain: Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Neck

A therapist helps a neck pain patient

A pinched nerve, or cervical radiculopathy as it is properly called, may happen for many reasons and can be uncomfortable for the patient. At Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, patients throughout northern New Jersey may receive care for a pinched nerve and related symptoms from a multi-specialty group of physicians. CNSO providers outline the symptoms, risks, and treatment options for a pinched nerve in the neck.

What is a Pinched Nerve in the Neck?

In most cases, a pinched nerve in the neck occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by the surrounding bone. Since nerves branch out from the spinal cord and exit through openings between the vertebrae, a pinched nerve may result in neck, shoulder, and arm pain. Just one pinched nerve could disrupt the surrounding muscles either directly or indirectly. It can lead to muscle spasms and trigger points.  Trigger point injections provide immediate relief to the trigger points. This procedure is done in the office by a pain management specialist using local anesthetic.  The procedure does not require any general anesthesia or IV sedation.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck might be different for everyone. Some individuals may experience one or two symptoms, while others might experience a combination of signs all at once. Most often, pinched nerve symptoms include:

  • Mild to severe neck pain
  • Tingling feeling in the arm or hand (pins and needles)
  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand (separately or simultaneously)
  • Weakened reflexes
  • Dull, electric, or sharp pain in the arms or hands
  • Loss of strength in more severe cases

The most common symptom of a pinched nerve is neck pain, but other signs may develop over time. While a pinched nerve might just occur from a nerve root within the spine overgrowing or losing alignment, other specific causes could include issues like a herniated disc, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, compression fractures, and tumors and cysts in the spine.

A patient needs to discuss specific symptoms with a pain management doctor, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic spine surgeon to determine the exact cause and best treatment options for their situation.

Potential Risks of a Pinched Nerve

The likelihood of developing a pinched nerve rises when a person reaches 50. This heightened risk is due to arthritis, degeneration of the spine, and breakdown of other parts of the body as people age.  But a pinched nerve can occur due to injury such as a car accident, sports injury, or while lifting heavy objections all of which can cause a herniated disc. Typically, a pinched nerve will go away on its own with rest, time, and over-the-counter NSAIDS. However, an untreated pinched nerve can lead to more serious complications. Some of these potential risks include:

  • Chronic neck pain
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Loss of function of a limb

It is important to see a physician if a nerve is pinched. Treating a pinched nerve in the neck early enough may reduce these complications. Patients with the following conditions are more at risk of having a pinched nerves:

  • Aging
  • Scoliosis
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Improper lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Tobacco use

No matter what age or previous medical conditions, anyone is capable of having a pinched nerve.   The key is recognizing the need to seek treatment.

Pinched Nerve Treatment

When it comes to treating pinched nerve and neck pain, there are a variety of treatments available. Some of these options are specialized exercises, medication, epidural steroid injections, surgery, and home remedies such as yoga, heat and cold packs, rest, and massages.

Pinched nerve surgical procedures include anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, artificial disc replacement, and laminectomy. It is recommended that individuals suffering from a pinched nerve discuss recommendations with a pain management doctor, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic spine surgeon to decide the best path of treatment.

Seek Treatment for a Pinched Nerve in Northern NJ

Those needing skilled physicians who specialize in pinched nerves and neck pain treatment in the northern New Jersey area should look to Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. The dedicated surgical and non-surgical team recognizes how neck and back pain interferes with daily life.  CNSO delivers comprehensive and coordinated care. The pain management doctors, neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, and physical therapists at CNSO enable patients to resume a healthy lifestyle that is free from disability. For additional information or to request an appointment, contact them today.

Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics
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