Patients who have ever experienced a pinched nerve in their neck know that it can be very painful and often makes every day activities difficult to accomplish. For example, a pinched nerve in your neck limits your ability to move your head freely, making certain movements like looking over your shoulder when you’re trying to back out of a parking space, turning your head to change lanes while you are driving or lifting your head off the pillow in the morning cause a significant amount of pain.
Pinched nerve causes
A nerve in your neck can become pinched when bone, cartilage, or soft tissue creates pressure and prevents it from sending out the right signals to the body. Instead, the compressed nerve sends out signals of pain to the surrounding area, traveling down the neck and into other parts of the body. Typically, people who pinch a nerve in their neck are also suffering from a degenerative spine condition, but in some cases, a pinched nerve is the result of a minor injury.
Treating a pinched nerve in your neck
If you have been experiencing prolonged, localized pain to the neck that radiates to the shoulders, arms or hands, and other symptoms like numbness, tingling and muscle weakness, then it’s important that you be evaluated by a physician. If your physician confirms a pinched nerve diagnosis, he or she will recommend a combination of conservative treatment methods to address the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Here are some of the treatments available for a pinched nerve in your neck:
- Medication. Your physician may prescribe you with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to address your pain.
- Cold and hot compress. Alternating between a hot and cold compress will help to reduce inflammation at the affected area.
- Exercise and stretching. Low-impact exercises and nonstrenuous stretching can help to strengthen your muscles and prevent damage from reoccurring in the future.
It is important to remember that every patient is different and each person will respond to the above treatments in his or her own way. If these treatments have not been successful in reducing your symptoms after several weeks or months, it may be time to explore surgery as an option.