Pinched Nerve In Neck – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Experiencing neck stiffness, and pain in the back, arms or legs? You may well have a pinched nerve in the neck! Know about this neck condition in detail in this exhaustive blog comprising causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and more.
What is a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve is basically an irritated or compressed nerve. When it occurs in the neck region, it’s referred to as cervical radiculopathy. A nerve can become irritated or compressed by nearby tissue, causing pain, tingling sensation, weakness and numbness in surrounding areas of the body.
What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck?
The common symptoms associated with a pinched nerve in the neck are:
- Mild or sharp pain in the neck, back, arms & legs
- Tingling or burning sensation
- Feeling that the hand/arm/foot is unresponsive
- Muscle fatigue
How common is a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve is a relatively common condition, with people of all ages affected by it. However, older adults above age 50 are more susceptible to it courtesy of age-related degeneration of various body parts and different types of arthritis.
How to diagnose a pinched nerve?
A physical examination of the neck, arms, shoulders & hands is generally conducted by a doctor to help detect a pinched nerve. Specific movements of the neck & arms and the pain caused by them also assist in the diagnosis of a pinched nerve and its source.
There are a number of diagnostic tests that could be conducted for detecting a pinched nerve. Let’s check them out in brief:
The Spurling Test
This test comprises neck extension, rotation of the head to the specific side where the symptoms are being experienced, and exerting mild pressure on the head from top to bottom.
By generating images of the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck, an x-ray can help identify a pinched nerve in the neck region. It can also display the narrowing of the disc spaces & foramen between the vertebrae.
A CT scan may help detect a pinched nerve in the neck by providing more detailed images of the spine & bones in the neck area as compared to an x-ray.
A doctor can view detailed images of the soft tissues, vertebrae & nerves in the neck region with an MRI. It can help understand the severity of the nerve compression, diagnose a herniated disc as the potential reason and detect any damage to the spinal cord.
EMG stands for Electromyography. It’s a diagnostic test that is used to calculate the speed of sending electrical impulses along a nerve. It helps assess whether a specific nerve or group of nerves are functioning in a normal manner, thus assisting in identifying a pinched nerve in the neck.
Will a pinched nerve go away on its own? How long does it take?
In the majority of cases, a pinched nerve may go away on its own after a period of around 4-6 weeks.
What are the causes of a pinched nerve in the neck?
Research studies have found age-linked wear and tear to be the main cause of a pinched nerve in the neck.
Other common causes comprise:
- Heavy weightlifting on a regular basis
- Frequent usage of driving equipment which vibrates
- Playing golf
How is a pinched nerve in the neck treated?
In the case that a pinched nerve in the neck doesn’t go away in 4-6 weeks with adequate rest, then medical intervention is necessary for alleviating the pressure on the nerve.
Non-surgical treatments are typically recommended as they don’t involve the high risks involved in surgical treatments. The most popular non-surgical treatments include:
Ice and heat therapy
Applying ice and heat to the area with swelling should help ease the symptoms caused by a pinched nerve in the neck and provide temporary pain relief. Follow the instructions of the doctor with regard to using ice or heat therapy.
A pinched nerve in the neck is a painful condition that is more prevalent in men than women and affects people from the age group of 50-54 the most. Early diagnosis is crucial to avoid the worsening of the condition and subsequent complications. Are you experiencing symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck? Contact our spine experts at the earliest for highly valuable guidance and consultation. Click here to book an appointment at your nearest ANSSI wellness centre: