Cervical nerve root

The neck is supported by seven cervical vertebrae, and nestled among those seven vertebrae are eight cervical nerves. Each of these nerves begins at a cervical nerve root, which branches off from the spinal cord and sends sensory signals, or messages, to different parts of the body.

The cervical nerves are identified by abbreviation, similar to the cervical vertebrae, using the notations C1 to C8. Understanding the purpose and function of these nerves will help you identify if you have a pinched nerve in your cervical spine and what to do for treatment.

Symptoms of a pinched cervical nerve root

When a cervical nerve root becomes compressed or pinched due to a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease or other spinal condition, painful symptoms can radiate from the nerve into the affected areas of the body.

For instance, if cervical spinal stenosis has caused compression of the C6 cervical nerve root, you may experience tingling, numbness or weakness in the upper arms or wrists. A problem with the C5 nerve root may cause shoulder pain or numbness.

Here is where each cervical nerve root travels and where on the body you may experience corresponding discomfort:

  • C1 and C2: Head
  • C3 and C4: Lower head and neck
  • C5: Upper shoulders
  • C6, C7 and C8: Lower shoulders, arms and hands

If you begin to experience these symptoms which seem to worsen over time, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to diagnose the cause of your pain and create a treatment plan for relief.

Treatment for a pinched cervical nerve root

Most neck pain caused by a pinched cervical nerve root can be managed through a course of doctor-recommended conservative treatment, such as exercise, physical therapy, pain medicine or behavior modification.

Occasionally, chronic pain may persist even after weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments. At this point, your physician may recommend surgery as an option.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery. Our procedures are often the clinically appropriate choice between the two due to our shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication.

To learn more about the types of minimally invasive procedures we offer and the spine conditions we help treat, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can also provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.