cervical radiculopathy
Pain from a pinched nerve in neck can be felt all through the neck down to the arms

When one suffers a pinched nerve in their neck, they are likely to have widespread effects to as far as the toes if the condition is not checked. Jacob, who lives in New York, developed a pinched nerve in his neck. His biggest worry was to have far-reaching effects of the condition.

He has been living with a pinched nerve in his neck for close to one year now. It causes him numbness and a lot of pain in the neck. His shoulders and the upper arms also suffer this pain. It has been hectic for him.

A big discouragement came from his friends, who after he shared his situation with them, told him that the pain was not likely to go away. He felt dejected and left out!

His right arm is having severe pains too. Just as most of us would do, he went to the internet and shared his problem. He was amazed that several other people responded confirming that they had had the same.

He could not allow the thought of the pinched nerve in his neck becoming permanent dominate. However, he needed to know what exactly is a pinched nerve in the neck, the causes, and the treatments for a successful problem management.

Here are the causes, symptoms and treatments of pinched nerve in the neck that Jack successfully went through.

cervical radiculopathy
How to relieve a pinched nerve in neck (cervical radiculopathy)

Causes of pinched nerve in neck

Nerves are electronic cords that carry information from your brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. Your body therefore is endowed with numerous of these so called nerves. Your neck on the other hand is located just next to head which in this case houses the brains.

This explains how crucial pinching of the nerves at the neck is. All nerves that serve the rest of your body apart from the head and the neck pass through your neck. This therefore means when a nerve is pinched at the neck, the rest of your body is affected.

Pinching of a nerve is actually a damage. It is brought about by three different things. First is constriction. This is tightness exposed to a nerve in the neck from its immediate environment. A good example is how snakes kill their prey. They tie them tight and disable their functioning. This is constricting. In the same way, a nerve can be constricted by its surrounding hence entrapping it.

Second is compression. This is slightly different from constriction in the sense that compression can be from one direction. This is pressure on your neck nerves. In this case your nerve(s) may be compressed against a bone or a muscle. Due to the compression, your nerve will tend to lose functionality. A good example is when you push your friend against a concrete wall. They will tend to feel some pain on the areas in direct contact with the concrete wall.

Third, pinching of your neck nerves can be due to stretching. Your neck is not bound of movements. Often, you stretch it might be to catch a glimpse of something that is happening some distance from you or due to whichever reason. The movements that your neck makes are likely to stretch the nerves in it. When stretched, your neck nerves will experience great pressure and will likely overstretch. This will entrap them.

A good example is when you pull a rope from both of its ends. Once in your lifetime you have participated in a tag of war, right? In that exercise it is likely that the rope tears at the middle due to the excess pressure from both ends. The same case with your nerves in the neck region, they might swell or rather become permanently damaged if overstretched.

neck stiffness and bulging disks
Experiencing neck stiffness during caused by a bulging disk in neck.

All the above three reasons may either be direct or indirect. Your neck nerve is likely to be pinched due to pressure which affects the immediate muscle and in the long run also affects the nerve.

The cervical area of your spine is responsible for supporting your skull’s weight and supplying the full range of motion that you require from your neck. The weight burden and the issue of flexibility bring about minor injuries in your neck. These injuries will result to pinching of the nerves.

As you grow older too, you will most probably experience degenerative conditions. These are due to a normal tear and wear. The cervical spine will experience this and the nerves may be entrapped.

However there are lifestyle behaviors which will lead to pinching of your neck nerves. All through remember, whether it is due to lifestyle or due to which other reason, the three causes remain. These behaviors will lead to constriction, compression or stretching.

These lifestyle habits are for instance unsuitable sleeping on a pillow or failure to use one hence leading to a poor neck body posture. Sitting on your office table for long or over-exerting while doing your household chores are some of other habits.

Another very big cause is ligament calcification; this is when a small portion of your ligament is replaced by calcium. Your neck nerves will become inflamed. Soft tissues in your neck region will may also become irritated causing a swelling with the nerves too.

Finally another common cause of pinching of nerves in your neck is tumors within the cervical spine. Tumors will grow with time and the bigger they will be the more pinching they will cause with your nerve.

Symptoms of pinched nerve in neck

As we have seen before, many nerves pass through your neck. In this connection, the symptoms you will experience will be dependent on the type of nerve affected. Effect on other nerves is more than in other nerves.

However, the most typical symptoms of pinched nerve in the neck are;

nerves in neck
diagram showing the nerve distribution & pinched nerve in neck

Pain that is mainly in the shoulder, on top of the shoulder, down the inside of the shoulder blade and at the back of your arm.

Effects of a pinched nerve in your neck will not be in the neck but also in the other body parts.

Your shoulders are the immediate from your neck, the nerves serving them branch from that in your neck.

The whole of your shoulder from the top to beneath will experience some pains.

Your shoulder will feel as though it has fallen asleep. It will be numb and will lose sensation. You will tend to feel a sense of tiredness on both of your shoulders.

That rampant shoulder pain will stay around. Remember this is accompanied by weakness of the muscles in your shoulder. To effectively conclude that it is neck nerve entrapment, try raising your hand overhead. Once you do so, it will relieve the shoulder pain.

Definitely you are now sure nerves in your neck are pinched. As much as you want the pain to go away within the shortest time possible, it would be impossible to hold your hands overhead all that time. This is just a diagnosis measure.

The entrapment is in the neck, your neck therefore will lose movement. In this case any attempts to make movements will be countered will pains and you will tend to remain in the similar position.

This is because as you try to move your neck, the pinched nerve which is swollen has affected the muscles and they have lost functionality. Movements will increase the pressure on the nerve hence the pain.

Your neck will lose sensation. You will tend to feel as though part of your neck is dead yet the rest of your body will function normally.

Depending on the extent of the entrapment, it is likely that even a slight tampering with your skin will have no effect. It will become numb.

Pain is the first and most common symptom of pinched nerve, with your neck; you will experience a radiating pain. However depending on the severity that pain may range from mild to severe.

The whole of your neck will be affected. However, your arms will feel more pain than the neck and more so your upper arms.

Well, pain in your arms will set in. your nerve is served by smaller nerves that branch from a main nerve in your neck. The pinching of that main nerve on the neck will disable all the functioning of the smaller nerves.

The pain in the arms is a deep one. In fact to describe it I would say it is a throbbing ache. Your arms will feel tired and the ache may even lower your morale to engage in other activities.

A worse of all symptoms is discomfort. This is resultant from the pain and loss of sensations. The pain will make you feel week and at no given position of condition will you feel okay.

It will hinder many of your activities by barring movements. You will even tend to fail to perform some of the exercises you have been performing. There will be no better position for your neck, any position will be a bad one.

How to treat a pinched nerve in the neck

pinched nerve neck exercises
Video explaining how to treat a pinched nerve in neck

There are several treatments that you would explore. Pinching of a neck nerve is not a death bed; you can get out of it. Here are some of the treatments;

neck pillows
Using a cervical pillow to relieve neck pain

Using a Cervical Pillow

A good pillow support will lower the stress placed on your neck and the upper back as a whole. You already have a pinched nerve, so continued pressure on the nerve will have severe consequences.

It will lead to complete destruction of the particular nerve. Take note that using a pillow is a recommendable means to support your neck and it will lower the risk of further nerve irritation.

However, you know that pillows come in different sizes and shapes. It is of less importance the size and shape of the pillow you will use at this juncture but the baseline is incorporating a pillow to support your neck.

The support will reduce the stress caused on your nerve, it will help your ailing neck to relax hence with time no pressure will be exerted and your nerve will be functioning normally.

However, this treatment is not only applicable when you have a pinched nerve but also when with no pinched nerve. Regularly using it during sleep will always ensure that your head and neck are well supported and that your head is exerting no extra pressure on your neck.

check sitting posture
You should check your sitting posture and avoid sitting for long hours in one position

Avoid Prolonged Sitting

Sitting for too long will lead to your head slowly shifting on your neck bone. The whole head will therefore be supported by the neck bone.

This bad posture will place more stress on the spinal joint and discs in your neck. This pressure will lead to a pinched nerve and you will start experiencing some neck pains.

It is therefore advisable to ensure movements or rather avoid similar position for a long time. Explore a new position after every few minutes.

When performing a duty that will require you to remain seated for some time it will be necessary for you to fix in some short breaks whereby you will stand and walk around. This will ensure that you relax your spinal joints and discs off the stress exerted previously.

That short interval break will also ensure that the head, if it had shifted to the neck bone, to go back to the normal position. Otherwise a compressed nerve will be severe if continuous stress is placed on the nerve.

neck relief exercises
Using neck exercises for pain relief

Neck Exercises

To fix your problem it will require interventions with more movements. However, the relationship of your movement from your jaw joint, upper back, neck and shoulder blade and all the way down the arm will play a very crucial role in fixing your problem. Neck exercises will enable all these movements.

Neck exercises help to stabilize neuromuscular parts. They include processes like neck isometrics which at the end of it all will help in releasing your  muscles.

The principal aim is to release the stress and revert the stressor or rather remove or return the stressor back to its position. This is not a one stand affair.

It will require you to do the neck exercises now and again to revert the situation. Other exercises are neck retraction, side bends, neck rotation and flexion.

Keep Hydrated

You are likely to be taking lots of trapped nerve pain killers and not eating or sleeping properly, these will then lead to poor hydration levels. Most of the victims have been identified to forget drinking water due to the constant pain they are going through. Make no such mistakes!

Excessive pain medications will automatically stress your kidney and livers. Have you ever wondered why new admissions in hospitals are put on intravenous saline drip? This is the reason. With your situation therefore you will need to drink some glasses of water in your day so as to create an enabling healing environment for your body.

Eat An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation to some extent is contributing factor to your nerve pain in the neck. What you consume will have an effect on your pain levels and how fast your body can heal itself. So explore the options of an anti-inflammatory diet.

This is a diet that will provide steady energy and enough vitamins, minerals, fatty acids dietary fiber and protective phytonutrients. This diet aims for variety and is one that minimizes the consumption of processed and fast foods. You will even need to change or review your recipe so as to accelerate your healing in the long run.

Finally there are other two treatments, first, taking some pain relieving medications. These are over the counter. They are efficient as they will do away with the pain as you work towards correcting the cause of the entrapment.

Second is surgery. This should be your last resort. When all the other methods fail consult with your doctor since it would be requiring a surgery to correct the same.