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Pinched Cervical Nerve

Patient wearing red long-sleeve shirt, sitting and holding back of neck

Treatment for Pinched Cervical Nerves in New Jersey

A pinched nerve can cause pain in patients. It happens when a nerve becomes pinched or compressed. At NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey, Dr. Branko Skovrlj is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in complex spine procedures.

What Is a Pinched Cervical Nerve?

A cervical pinch nerve happens when there is damage to a nerve via compression, often causing radiating pain known as cervical radiculopathy.

The nerves that run through the cervical spine send messages back and forth between the muscles and the brain. The roots of these nerves branch out through openings in the vertebrae called foramen. Damage to these nerve roots can cause pain and the loss of sensation along the nerve’s pathway into the arm and hand, depending on where the damaged nerve roots are located.

Symptoms of a Pinched Cervical Nerve

The main symptom of a cervical pinched nerve is pain that spreads into the arm, neck, chest, upper back, or shoulders. Most of the time, the pain affects just one side of the body.

Symptoms of a cervical pinched nerve include:

  • Pain in the neck
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm and hand
  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm, hand, or all three
  • Loss of sensation in the arm, hand, or both

A person with radiculopathy may also experience motor problems, such as muscle weakness, lack of coordination, or the loss of reflexes in the arms or legs.

Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy happens when a nerve root becomes compressed, or pinched, in the neck. Causes include:

Pinched Cervical Nerve Diagnosis

There are several tests that neurosurgeons at NU-Spine can perform to help them diagnose a pinched nerve in the neck. They include:

Spurling Test

A Spurling test involves the patient extending the neck and rotating their head to the side where the symptoms occur. The doctor then applies gentle downward pressure to the top of the head. This test can be used along with other diagnostic tests for a pinched nerve.


An X-ray is an imaging test that uses high-energy electromagnetic radiation to take images of bones. An X-ray can show the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck and demonstrate the narrowing of the foramen and disc spaces between the vertebrae.

Computed Tomography

A computed tomography, or CT, scan is a medical imaging technique used to get detailed internal images of the body. A CT scan shows the bone in more detail than an X-ray.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Also known as MRI, this test uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the organs in the body. An MRI allows neurosurgeons to see the vertebrae, soft tissues, and nerves in greater detail than with other types of scans. An MRI can also show how severe the nerve compression in the neck is and allow neurosurgeons to see whether a herniated disk is causing compression of the nerve or the spinal cord.


Also known as an EMG, this test measures the speed of transmitting electrical impulses along a nerve. Sometimes, doctors will use this test to determine whether a nerve or group of nerves is functioning properly. In the case of a suspected pinched nerve in the neck, an EMG can help doctors determine which nerve has become irritated or compressed and exactly where the compression occurs.

Treatments for Pinched Cervical Nerve

For some people, a pinched nerve will work itself out and no treatment is required. Sometimes, spine specialists will recommend non-surgical treatments to help cure a pinched cervical nerve, and in some extreme cases, a neurosurgeon may recommend a surgical procedure.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

There are two main non-surgical treatments for pinched cervical nerves, and they can be done in tandem. They are:

  • Physical therapy: The use of stretching exercises, massage, and heat treatments to restore movement after an injury.
  • Medication: The use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain. A spine specialist may also prescribe corticosteroid injections.

Surgical Treatment Options

If non-surgical treatments for a pinched cervical nerve have not cured a patient’s pain, a neurosurgeon may recommend a surgical treatment. The location and severity of the pain will determine which surgery is best for providing relief. Some surgeries include:

  • Cervical disc replacement: A neurosurgeon removes part or all of a cervical disc when the disc no longer functions properly.
  • Discectomy: A surgical procedure that removes all or part of an intervertebral disc.
  • Posterior cervical foraminotomy: Using a minimally invasive spine surgery technique, the spinal column is widened to relieve pressure off pinched nerves.

Choose NU-Spine to Treat Pinched Cervical Nerves

The world-renowned staff at NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute are advocates of minimally invasive spinal surgery. Dr. Skovrlj and his team believe the minimally invasive techniques are as effective, and in many cases more so, than traditional spine surgery, but are less invasive and lead to quicker healing for the patient.

Whether a patient has a pinched cervical nerve or is seeking a more accurate diagnosis of neck and back pain, they should visit NU-Spine as soon as possible. We are conveniently located in Paramus, Woodbridge, Toms River, Jersey City, and Holmdel, New Jersey.

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 towards a pain-free future. Contact us today.

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