Trapped nerve in the neck – Causes, symptoms, treatment

What is a trapped nerve?

Nerve compression can occur when one of the nerve roots along the spine become pinched. When a nerve in the neck becomes trapped, it can lead to pain the neck, shoulders, and even headaches, along with muscle tension, stiffness, and potentially other symptoms as well.

A nerve can become trapped when other spinal structures press against it. Some examples include herniated or bulging discs, as well as bone spurs. In other words, the pain from a pinched nerve occurs when certain structures obstruct the passage of the nerve and place pressure on it.

Trapped nerves can occur in any portion of the back, but they tend to be more common in the lumbar and cervical spine regions. A pinched nerve in the neck is also referred to as cervical radiculopathy.

What causes a nerve to become trapped?

Some examples of issues that can lead to nerve pinching in any region of the back and neck include:

  • People aged 50 and over have a higher chance to develop a pinched nerve in the neck due to the changes that occur within the spine as we age.
  • Herniated disks. When a disc becomes herniated and bulges out of its regular place, it can impinge on surrounding structures, especially on nerve roots.
  • Spinal stenosis. This is a condition where the passage that houses the spinal cord becomes narrower due to obstruction by other spinal structures, such as herniated discs or bone spurs. When the canal is obstructed, there is a chance that one or multiple nerve roots can become trapped due to the said obstruction.
  • Spinal compression. Due to extended pressure that is sustained by the spine, its structures (mainly the vertebrae and discs) may become compressed. This causes the spine to shorten, leaving less space for the spinal cord and the nerve roots. It is thus quite likely for a nerve root to become trapped in such circumstances.

Symptoms

One of the main symptoms experienced by people who suffer from cervical radiculopathy is that of neck pain. Sometimes the pain can extend to other parts of the body and affect the shoulders, arms, head, or back. Along with the pain, numbness and stiffness of the neck muscles may occur in some people.

Treatment

A trapped nerve does not necessarily require treatment, as it can go away on its own as time goes on, along with sufficient rest. There are, however, some approaches one can take to address the pain at home and facilitate healing.

Some options for at-home treatment include:

  • Over the counter painkillers to temporarily alleviate the pain
  • Hot and cold fomentation that can be applied on the affected area to reduce any swelling, inflammation, or pain. The hot and cold compresses can be used in an alternative manner to get the best results.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding to place strain on the region where the nerve is trapped, in this case the neck. Try to avoid slouching and rounding your shoulders forward.

However, if the symptoms don’t subside, or they get worse, it is recommended that the patient seeks professional help. It is this imperative to seek medical advice, as well as a diagnosis to confirm whether the symptoms a person experiences can be attributed to a pinched nerve.

In order to diagnose cervical radiculopathy, it is advised to seek the help of a qualified medical professional who shall conduct a physical examination and possibly request for additional imaging tests, such as a CT scan. Such examinations help to also rule out the possibility of a more serious issue being the source of the symptoms.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the patient may be offered treatments such as:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to temporarily relieve pain
  • Steroid injections to reduce the pain and inflammation in the affected region
  • Physical therapy to re-mobilise the spine, as well as to increase the strength of the neck/upper back muscles

In many cases, surgical intervention is not required to address a pinched nerve. However, it may be considered as a last resort for people who are in severe pain, or those for whom more conservative approaches have failed to provide results.

On another hand, because trapped nerves occur mostly due to spinal compression (as the neck comprises the upper part of the spine), it may be helpful to use an orthopaedic device such as the Backrack to decompress the spine (neck) and free the trapped nerve.

 

Spinal Backrack Technology for Effective Pain Relief

The Spinal Backrack is a unique and innovative device that provides long-term back pain relief through exercises that are easy to do at home and use only your own body weight.

Through these exercises, it massages your back to relieve any tension or spinal compression that may be present.

And the best part is that it is absolutely free of side-effects, as it is 100% natural.

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