Pinched Nerve In The Neck

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

Watch the VIDEO about a Pinched Nerve in the Neck by Dr. James Perry.

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A nerve pinch is a compression of a nerve somewhere along the length of the nerve fibers.  Nerves carry information to and from the brain through the spinal cord and out through peripheral nerves. When there is an area in the body with compression of the nerve, it can alter the information on the nerve.  It may slow the speed of the information or it may completely stop the message from traveling through the nerve.

Cervical spinal cord

What is a pinched nerve?

Other symptoms that may be felt with a pinched nerve are:

  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Burning

Causes of Pinched Nerve in the Neck

anatomy of the neck with labels

Anatomy of the neck

The quick answer is anything that contacts a nerve can pinch it.  Nerves travel from the spinal cord through spaces between the bones in the spine called lateral foramen.  There are several structures or issues that can potentially pinch a nerve in that area.  They include:


Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in The Neck And Shoulder

man grabbing elbow from A pinched neck nerve that referred symptoms to the arm or hand.

Referred pain from a pinched nerve in the neck

If you have symptoms of a pinched neck nerve (as listed above), you will likely feel it in a specific pattern.  The area of the symptoms can give clues to where and which nerve is being compressed. Common areas to feel symptoms from a nerve pinch in the neck are the:

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Forearm
  • Hand

If the symptoms are in any of these areas, the problem could still be from the neck.  But there could be a problem at any point along the nerve as well.

Treatment for a (Compressed) Pinched Neck Nerve

Treating a pinched nerve is similar to treating other issues.  In other words, getting rid of the inflammation is the goal.  This may be done with:

  • Anti-Inflammatory medications
  • Moist heat packs
  • Warm shower
  • Rest
  • Modified activity to decrease pain

If these do not help the symptoms, it may be time to see a doctor.  Depending on the severity, a doctor will likely refer you to physical therapy.  They may also order tests to help determine the cause or where a nerve is being pinched or compressed. Some of these tests may include:

If conservative treatment like physical therapy does not alleviate your pinched nerve symptoms, and diagnostic tests reveal an issue along the nerve, the doctor may consider:

  • Oral Corticosteroids
  • Injected steroids in the area compressing the nerve

However, if these treatments do not help, then you may be referred to a Spine Surgeon for an assessment.

To learn how to exercise your neck at work, click HERE.

Related Articles: FlexibilityBest Hamstring Stretches and Direct Access to Physical Therapy.

Neck Doctors in Jacksonville, FL

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

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