Is my neck pain a pinched nerve?

With David T. Anderson, MD

 

What is a pinched nerve?

When a nerve is irritated or compressed it can result in the symptoms of a pinched nerve. When this occurs in the nerve exiting the neck, or cervical spine, it is referred to as cervical radiculopathy.


What are the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy?

Patients who have a pinched nerve in their neck may experience:

- Neck and radiating arm pain

- Numbness, tingling and weakness

- Altered or a loss of sensation

- Abnormal reflexes


What would cause this pinched nerve?

In many older patients, a pinched nerve is due to natural, chronic degenerative changes. Often when a pinched nerve is seen in a younger patient it is due to an acute injury that causes disc herniation like whiplash from a car accident or something that’s occurred while lifting and twisting.


What treatment is best for a pinched nerve?

An x-ray or MRI will inform the best course of action and conservative treatments work well with the vast majority of patients. Your orthopedist may recommend anti-inflammatories, a physical therapy regiment a short course of oral steroids or injections.

If all conservative methods have been exhausted, your orthopedist may recommend surgery. Other symptoms may advance the level of treatment including spinal compression or neurological deficits like a lack of coordination or fine motor skills.


What's Next?

- Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a term that describes pain that radiates down the leg caused by a pinched nerve in the back. Get the scoop on sciatica plus exercises to help deal with the pain.

- Setting up your workplace to be ergonomically friendly can help stop the pain before it starts. Learn more in our series about Everday Ergonomics.

- You don't have to live with discomfort. Ready to see a doctor? Meet Dr. Anderson who serves patients at OrthoCarolina Monroe and learn more about OrthoCarolina locations near you.





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