Pinched Nerve In The Neck

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

A pinched neck nerve can cause symptoms along the nerve. Symptoms may be in the elbow, shoulder, forearm, or hand.

What is a pinched nerve in the neck

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

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A nerve pinch is when a nerve is compressed 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 an area of the nerve gets compressed or pinched, it can alter the information carried on the nerve.  It may slow the speed of the information or it may completely stop the message from traveling through the nerve.

Nerves carry information to and from the brain. Compression of a nerve can alter the information.

Image of a spinal cord

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

  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Burning

Causes of Pinched Nerve in the Neck

bones in the neck and the structures around the nerve can cause compression on the nerve.

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

A pinched neck nerve typically refers symptoms to the arm or hand. The location of the symptoms give information as to where the nerve is pinched or compressed.

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


Woman with pinched neck nerve

Treating a pinched nerve is similar to treating other issues.  Getting rid of the inflammation is the initial 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

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

If you would like to learn how to exercise your neck at work, click HERE.

Neck Doctors in Jacksonville, FL

If you think you have a pinched nerve in your neck, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help.  Our Orthopaedic Spine Doctors and Surgeons and our Physical Therapists are experts at treating pinched nerves in the neck.  We offer ASAP Appointments and telemedicine visits as well.  Let JOI get you on the road to recovery!

If you would like to see a JOI Neck Specialist, call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

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Ehren Allen is a physical therapist and medical content writer for JOI.

Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

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