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Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Adult suffering from neck pain in home office

A pinched nerve in your neck can be debilitating if not diagnosed and treated appropriately. Also called cervical radiculopathy, this condition occurs when a nerve root in your neck becomes compressed. NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute treats pinched nerves and other spine conditions for patients in New Jersey. Learn more about how to identify a pinched nerve.

What Is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is placed on a nerve root. The pressure may come from problems with any surrounding tissues, such as a bone spur, a slipped disc, or an inflamed muscle or tendon. This pressure interferes with the nerve’s function. It may cause the nerve to send and receive false signals, resulting in unusual sensations and impaired mobility. Very severe pinching can halt nerve function altogether, resulting in total loss of feeling or control.

Your spinal cord is responsible for carrying information about motions, sensory input, and organ function between the body and brain. Nerve roots branch off along its length, passing through narrow gaps in the spine. Each nerve root provides control and sensation to a specific area of the body.

The neck or cervical region of the spine contains eight nerve roots responsible for motor control and sensation in your chest and arms. When one of them becomes pinched, its symptoms affect those areas.

What Causes a Pinched Nerve?

Your neck is the least-protected region of the spine. It also receives a lot of stress from supporting and moving your head, which weighs about 11 pounds. This combination of vulnerability and stress makes the neck particularly susceptible to injury. However, not all cases of spinal compression are impact-related. Here are some of the most common causes of a pinched nerve in the neck:

  • Age-related wear and tear
  • Repeated movement from regular workplace activity
  • Traumatic injuries from sports or vehicle accidents
  • Spondylosis, osteoarthritis, and other forms of arthritis
  • Inflammation from infections around your spine
  • Spinal stenosis, or bone spurs
  • A slipped cervical disc
  • Spine cancer or a tumor

Older adults are more susceptible to nerve compression. Manual laborers are also at greater risk, as are people with diabetes or a history of smoking. If any of these risk factors apply to you, talk with a neurosurgeon or spine specialist about steps you can take to prevent a pinched nerve.

How to Tell You Have a Pinched Nerve in Your Neck

The symptoms of a pinched nerve are caused by signal interference. When a nerve is squeezed too tightly, it cannot send and receive information as it is meant to. The result is an incorrect or interrupted signal. Pinched nerves can also affect the nerves they are connected to, creating pain that travels or radiates from your neck through your arm. Here are some common symptoms of cervical radiculopathy:

  • Burning, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations
  • Pain that travels between your neck, shoulders, and arms
  • Feeling as if your hand has “fallen asleep”
  • Numbness or loss of feeling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of motion or control over your arms and hands
  • Headaches just above the back of your neck

Though all these symptoms are hallmarks of a pinched nerve, they may also be caused by other conditions. Several related neck conditions cause similar or overlapping symptoms. Always speak with a doctor when experiencing serious discomfort, especially around your neck and back. An accurate diagnosis is essential for lasting relief.

Treating Neck Pain at Home

While you cannot always prevent a pinched nerve, there are several steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of experiencing it. Following these steps may be especially important if any risk factors apply to you. These steps include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly to strengthen your neck muscles
  • Practicing good posture when sitting or standing
  • Stretching frequently

If you develop neck pain, you may be able to treat it at home. Certain self-care measures can reduce your pain and other symptoms. They may also help you live more comfortably until you schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon for specific treatment. At-home remedies include:

  • Short-term rest
  • Fewer activities that require repetitive neck movements
  • Alternating ice and heat therapy
  • Targeted neck exercises
  • Over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory medication

Many cases of pinched neck nerve will improve after at-home care. If your discomfort persists, it may be time to see a neurosurgeon.

Trust a Board-Certified Neurosurgeon for Pinched Nerve Treatment

You should always contact a doctor if your pain persists through self-care, or if your symptoms are severe. An experienced neurosurgeon can accurately diagnose a pinched nerve in your neck and identify its cause to develop a personalized treatment plan. At NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, patients are seen by board-certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Branko Skovrlj, who specializes in spinal conditions and minimally invasive spine surgery. His experience and our advanced surgical techniques can help you return to a pain-free life.

Don’t wait to transform your life with a touch of care. Experience the cutting edge in minimally invasive spine treatments. Don’t wait for relief; schedule your appointment with our spine experts today and take the first step toward a pain-free future. Contact us today for an initial consultation or to visit one of our locations in Paramus, Woodbridge, Toms River, Jersey City, or Holmdel, NJ.

Start Your Path to Relief: Contact Us Today!
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