Pinched nerve in neck — symptoms and treatment

A pinched nerve in the neck can range from being a minor discomfort to a debilitating condition, potentially limiting you from doing simple tasks like driving or sleeping. In some cases this nerve pain can be caused by something as minor as a tweak in the neck from sleeping in the wrong position or twisting your neck too far to one side.

However, nerve pain that lasts longer than a few days or a week could be an indication of a cervical (upper) spine condition causing nerve compression. Whether you are researching potential causes of your neck pain or you have been diagnosed with a spine condition, learning more about pinched nerves in the neck can help you work more closely with your doctor to find the relief you deserve.

Symptoms and causes of a pinched nerve in the neck

The cervical spine has seven vertebrae, labeled C1 to C7, that start at the base of the skull and run through the neck and upper back. These vertebrae have eight pairs of nerve roots located between the vertebrae, with nerve root pair C8 resting between the last cervical vertebra (C7) and the first thoracic vertebra (T1).

Although not everyone experiences the same symptoms, the following is a list of symptoms commonly felt in relation to where a cervical nerve is pinched:

  • Pinched nerve at C5. This can cause shoulder pain, deltoid weakness and possibly a small area of numbness in the shoulder.
  • Pinched nerve at C6. This can cause weakness of the biceps and wrist extensors, and pain or numbness that travels down the arm to the thumb.
  • Pinched nerve at C7. This can cause pain or numbness that moves down the arm to the middle finger.
  • Pinched nerve at C8. This can cause hand dysfunction and pain or numbness that can run to the outside of the hand (little finger) and impair its reflex.

Age and obesity are two factors that can lead to a pinched nerve in the neck. These conditions naturally lead to the weakening of discs in the spine, which increases the risk of developing a degenerative spine condition, such as:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bulging discs
  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Bone spurs

Treatment options for a pinched nerve in the neck

The treatment recommended for the pinched nerve in your neck depends on the cause of the condition and the severity of the nerve compression. Lasting relief can often be achieved by following a doctor’s recommendation for conservative treatments such as rest, medication, physical therapy and spinal injections. If surgery does become an option, reach out to the caring team at Laser Spine Institute for more information about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

Our board-certified surgeons+ use muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine, resulting in an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery. Since 2005 we have been able to help more than 75,000 patients find relief at our outpatient centers across the United States.

If you still have questions or would like to know more about our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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