Pinched Neck Nerve

Pinched nerves in the neck, also known as cervical radiculopathy, occur when one of the nerve roots of the spinal cord is pressed upon by a herniated disc or bone spur. Because the nerves in the spinal cord are connected to the rest of the body, a pinched nerve in the neck can cause problems elsewhere, such as upper back pain, shoulder and arm pain, and muscle weakness.

Symptoms of a Pinched Neck Nerve

Pinched neck nerves tend to cause radiating pain, meaning pain that extends out to an arm, hand and fingers. Neck pain and headaches located in the back of the head (known as occipital headaches) are also common.

Diagnosis of a Pinched Neck Nerve

Your Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital doctor will require a full medical history to rule out other possible causes of your neck pain or symptoms. You may be asked if you have experienced any injuries, whether you are feeling pain, weakness or numbness and tingling in an extremity.

Poor balance and troubles with manual dexterity should be shared with your doctor as well as loss of fine motor skills such as handwriting or buttoning. You may also be asked about your lifestyle, or whether you have any family history of similar problems.

By examining the locations of your symptoms, your doctor will be able to determine where the pinched nerve occurred. This can be confirmed with an X-ray or MRI. A nerve test such as an EMG can identify other sources of arm pain that cause carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome.

Treatments for a Pinched Neck Nerve

Treatment will depend on the root cause of the problem. Usually, the pain can be managed, and your doctor will work with you to determine the best way to treat your symptoms.

Pain medications, oral steroids and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to control pain or muscle spasms, or to help you sleep. Physical therapy and epidural steroid injections are also often prescribed.

While these will help with your symptoms, they are not a cure, and in the case of more severe symptoms your doctor may suggest surgery. A cervical collar, which is a neck brace that limits the motion of your neck while the neck is healing, can help prevent further injury and aid in the healing process.