Do you have a literal pain in the neck? Studies show that this condition affects up to three-quarters of the population in some countries. The amount of pain can vary from a little soreness to excruciating pain that prevents you from moving your neck at all. The big question is: what’s wrong? As always, it’s important to find out need-to-know information like a pinched nerve in neck symptoms and causes. The problem could be a neck nerve or something else.
What exactly is a pinched nerve in the neck about? In a nutshell, it’s caused by tissues putting too much pressure on the nerve. The result can range from numbness to pain. Since neck pain is somewhat common how do you know that’s what you have? Most of us aren’t experts on human anatomy. Since we don’t know what’s causing the pain and discomfort it can make matters worse by causing extra worry and stress. That’s a bad thing. So, if you want to be more certain your neck does or doesn’t have a pinched nerve keep reading so you’ll have peace of mind.
The Nerve of Pinched Nerves
While most of us have heard of “nerves” it might be tough to define exactly what they are. These are part of the bigger system known as the nervous system. Think of the system as a “highway” that the brain uses to send/receive data about what’s taking place in the body as well as around it. Billions of nerve cells called neurons make up the nervous systems and are linked to nerves.
A nerve is a fiber that sends signals around the body using chemical and electrical stuff. It’s these nerves that are affected by pinched nerves.
This system is quite complex and is usually quite efficient. It often functions like a well-oiled machine. On the other hand, any machine can break down and sometimes people have nerve-related problems. If something doesn’t feel right it’s important to know when you’re suffering from pinched nerves.
So, it’s also critical to know what the pinched nerve in your neck is all about. If you’ve ever felt a tingling sensation in your neck or it “fell asleep” then you might be experiencing a pinched nerve. This condition in the neck is caused by “central nerves.” These are simply nerves in the central nervous system that are mostly in the brain and spine.
Pinched nerves are relatively uncommon. In the US they affect less than 1 in 1,000 adults. However, it’s still a health condition you should get diagnosed and treated if you suffer from it. The symptoms of this condition can be quite painful so it’s best to deal with it as quickly as possible.
Here’s why. In some cases, you might have a pinched nerve. In other cases, it might be something less or more serious. There’s no way to be 100% sure until your physician gives you a check-up to figure out what’s going on.
Pinched Nerve in Neck Symptoms and Causes
Make sure to watch out for common symptoms that show up as a result of pinched nerves.
- Numbness: This can also include less sensation in the region around the nerve
- Tingling: This is the feeling of “pins and needles” in your neck.
- Weakness: This symptom takes place in the area affected by the pinched nerve.
- Sharp Pain: It can include an aching or burning pain that might expand outward from the nerve.
It’s important to note that these symptoms could be caused by a pinched nerve or other cause. That’s why it’s critical for your doctor to examine your neck to determine if it’s a pinched nerve or something else.
Pinched nerves result from tissues around a nerve putting too much compression (pressure) on the nerve. Sometimes cartilage or bone causes the pressure and in other cases, it results from muscles or tendons.
Various different tissues sometimes cause pinched nerves. That’s the case of carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand or wrist.
Different conditions can also cause tissues to put pressure on the neck’s nerves including:
- Repetitive work movements
Several risk factors boost your chance of suffering from pinched nerves in the neck. They include:
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
The inflammation caused by this condition can increase your chance of pinched nerves due to compressed nerves.
2. Thyroid Disease
People who suffer from this disease are at a higher risk of experiencing more pressure on their nerves.
3. Bone Spurs
Conditions like osteoarthritis can result in bone spurs. They can cause spinal stiffness and problems that cause pinched nerves.
Several other risk factors exist. Diabetics are at a higher risk of having nerve compression. Long-term bed rest can also boost the risk of nerve compression. Water/weight gain due to pregnancy can also cause nerves to get compressed.
Prevention and Treatment
The first step is to try some self-care treatments like over the counter (OTC) pain relievers and some good old-fashioned rest. If the symptoms haven’t gone away for a long time then it’s time to schedule an appointment to find out what’s wrong.
The good news is you can take some basic steps to reduce your chance of pinched nerves.
1. Strength/Flexibility Exercises
Make sure to add some in your workout program. The right combination of cardio and weight-resistance exercises will provide the best overall results including reducing pressure on your nerves.
2. Change your sleeping position
This is especially true if you sleep on your stomach or side. In that case, it’s important to change your sleeping position from time to time to help prevent compressed nerves.
3. Maintain ideal weight
Make sure to research a healthy weight for you based on various factors like age and height. Besides the actual weight, you should also check body fat through your Body Mass Index (BMI).
4. Reduce repetitive activities
This can involve work or recreation. If you absolutely, positively must do these activities then make sure to take enough breaks so you won’t put too much stress on your neck nerves.
The exact treatment you receive is based on various factors like the cause and severity of the neck’s nerve compression. In many cases, you just need more rest to solve the problem.
However, if the condition persists you should visit your doctor. Here are some of the possible treatments you could get:
- Removal of materials
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen
- Physical Therapy
Surgery should be your last resort. In many cases, other treatments will effectively treat your pinched nerves. This is another effective solution after learning the main pinched nerve in neck symptoms and causes.