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Last updated: Oct 6, 2021

Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Have you ever served a great overhand in tennis only to feel a sharp, pinching sensation in your neck? Have you painted a room and felt the same intense sensation at the junction between your neck and shoulder? You may have developed a pinched nerve that needs proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment to resolve. Your pain management doctor at Redefine Healthcare has answers and looks forward to relieving you of the pain associated with a pinched nerve in the neck. Call today for an appointment.

pinched nerve in neckA pinched nerve in your neck can originate from overextension during a great round of golf. Perhaps you have a job that requires lifting items higher than your shoulders. It’s easy to compress and irritate the nerves that branch from the spinal cord in your neck.

Clinically called cervical radiculopathy, a pinched nerve in your neck can result from numerous sports activities or working conditions.

Wear-and-tear injuries that occur in your spine as you age also contribute to this radiating pain. A pinched nerve usually comes on more slowly than a sports or work injury. Instead, you feel it as a nagging pain that lingers. Your pain specialists at Redefine Healthcare usually diagnoses arthritis for this type of condition.

Causes of Pinched Neck Nerve

Sports or work injuries often result in a herniated disc, as well. The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers, cushioning your spine from jarring when you walk or run. The rigid outer ring protects a soft gel-like center. This gel may leak or bulge against the outer lining if the disc compresses from an injury or slowly loses height due to loss of water and age-related stiffening of the outer shell.

When the disc becomes stiff or compressed, the vertebrae shift closer together to rub against each other and the surrounding nerves. Your body tries to compensate for the loss of disc material by producing more bone, but this action results in bone spurs, which make the bone inflexible while pinching your nerves as well.

Symptoms of Nerve Impingement in the Neck

Pain from this condition usually starts in your neck but often radiates down into your arm.

Other symptoms include:

  • Sharp, burning sensations, especially when making movements such as turning your head or extending your neck
  • Muscle weakness in your shoulder, arm, or hand
  • Numbness or loss of sensation
  • Pins and needles or tingling sensations often in your hand or fingers

Who’s at Risk for Pinched Nerve in the Neck?

Many jobs or sports activities can contribute to or aggravate strained or compressed nerves. Those especially susceptible include:

  • Tennis players
  • Basketball players
  • Painters
  • Golfers
  • Construction workers
  • Store employees who stock shelves
  • Hair stylists
  • Those involved in an automobile accident, especially if struck from behind
  • Childcare workers
  • Dental hygienists
  • Anyone who must work with their arms and hands at or above chest level or who reach above their heads often

Ignoring the symptoms and discomfort can lead to long-term or permanent nerve injury. A neck injury can lead to permanent numbness, muscle weakness, or a chronic pain condition. It can also lead to limited mobility in your neck or arms. Stave off permanent disability by getting the best treatment for a pinched nerve from a respected and knowledgeable expert at Redefine Healthcare.

How to Treat a Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Most individuals improve with time and appropriate self-care and practice proper lifting techniques that your doctor provides. Movement and home treatments help if the pinched nerve discomfort returns. If your pain lingers for weeks or months, even with suitable home treatments, your doctor may recommend more aggressive treatment.

Home treatment options include:

  • Rest and avoiding the activities that cause symptoms to flare
  • Ice packs to numb pain
  • Heating pads or warm, moist compresses to loosen tightened and cramped muscles
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine to relieve discomfort
  • Careful movement of arms and neck to maintain your flexibility without aggravating the discomfort

Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Stronger pain relievers if your discomfort is severe
  • Narcotics, although your pain may not require them
  • Muscle relaxants to reduce nerve compression
  • Short-term oral corticosteroids that help reduce swelling
  • Steroid injections directly at the site of discomfort to minimize swelling and provide pain relief
  • A cervical collar to let muscles relax and limit neck movement
  • Physical therapy to provide therapeutic massage, improve flexibility and range of motion, and strengthen your neck muscles

Other Pinched Nerve Treatments for the Neck

If your symptoms persist despite extensive conservative treatment, your Redefine Healthcare pain management specialist may recommend minimally invasive surgical treatments. These may include removing the compromised disc or bone spurs or fusing vertebrae to provide stability and proper alignment. Fusion limits the motion of a degenerated section of your spine. Your doctor may insert a spacer or cage in the place of the removed disc and graft bone to this area to provide extra support.

The goal of treatment is to relieve pressure on the compressed nerve through building muscle, removing spurs, or replacing damaged discs. Your New Jersey doctor specializes in finding the best methods for providing you pain relief. Contact the Redefine Healthcare pain management clinic today for a complete evaluation.

This page was published on Oct 9, 2019, modified on Oct 6, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist in New Jersey, is board-certified and fellowship-trained in Interventional Spine and Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is an expert in minimally invasive spinal procedures and non-surgical orthopedic care.

Dr. Freeman is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Interventional Pain Practice Society. In addition, he serves as the Immediate Past President of the New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Freeman is well-known in the field of pain management as a leading pain management doctor, having been named one of "America's Top Physicians."

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