Pinched nerve in neck

A pinched nerve in the neck can be extremely painful, sometimes even limiting you from doing simple tasks like driving or sleeping. Sometimes, 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.

Sometimes, however, nerve pain that lasts longer than a few days or a week could be an indication of a cervical (neck) spine condition causing nerve compression. This pain should be diagnosed by a doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Pain by location

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. It is also possible for a patient’s biceps reflex to be diminished.
  • 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. The brachioradialis reflex (mid-forearm) may also be diminished.
  • Pinched nerve at C7 — this can cause pain or numbness that moves down the arm to the middle finger. Upon physical examination, it may be noticeable that the triceps reflex has been diminished.
  • Pinched nerve at C8 — this can cause hand dysfunction (this nerve supplies innervation to the small muscles of the hand). Pain or numbness 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

Our treatments

The treatment recommended for the pinched nerve in your neck depends on the cause of the condition and the severity of the nerve compression.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgeries such as a discectomy, a foraminotomy or laminotomy, which are aimed at relieving pressure on the pinched nerve while still maintaining stability in the spine. These minimally invasive decompression procedures offer several benefits over traditional open back surgery, including a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication. In some cases, a stabilization surgery may be recommended to restore stability to the spine.

Our focus at Laser Spine Institute is to provide patient-centered care. That means a streamlined patient experience so you can return to your life faster^ with no overnight hospitalization. Because our procedures are performed in our outpatient surgery centers, we have a much lower infection rate (0.49 percent)^ compared to traditional spine surgery in a hospital (19 percent).

The staff at Laser Spine Institute will always strive to go above and beyond in providing a high standard of treatment during your stay. Please feel free to take a moment to visit our page devoted to our physicians. If you are curious to see what kind of an impact we have had on the lives of our previous patients, browse through a few of their testimonials.

If you still have questions or would like to know more about our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Browse Related Resources