A pinched nerve in your neck can be an extremely disturbing thing to suffer from. It's usually caused by a small muscle tweak/injury and usually disappears after a few days. However, when it doesn't go away after a few days, it's important to consult your doctor as pinched nerves could be the result of a more serious spine condition.
Symptoms Associated with Pinched Nerve in Neck
Below are some of the main symptoms patients complain of when suffering from a pinched nerve in their necks:
- Possibly the most common symptom, pain has been reported in just about all cases.
- Other patients list mild numbness or burning sensations around their shoulders, arms or possibly hands.
- Muscle spasms around the joint areas.
- Cervicobrachial syndrome - this condition causes patients to feel pain, weakness and possible swelling in the neck.
- Other symptoms include headaches in the back area of your head or temples. Some headaches can also cause pain behind your eyes.
- Weaknesses in your muscles.
- Symptoms have been known to get worse after any sudden, jerky movements.
Causes of Pinched Nerve in Neck
1. Nerve Compression
Pinched nerves occur when you put extra pressure on a nerve. This can happen because of repeated strain or holding your body in one position for too long. Pinched nerves in the neck are actually pretty common because not only does your neck have to support your skull and head, but it's also up to it to perform a range of movements that we require of it. The combination of weight support and flexibility is what makes these injuries so common. In fact, sleeping awkwardly on your pillow could be one cause for nerve compression.
2. Neck Arthritis
Neck arthritis, also called cervical spondylosis, is a condition where the bones in your cervical spine gradually degenerate. Like any regular wear and tear, the joints in your body can also suffer the same fate from a condition known as osteoarthritis. This disease causes the cartilage in your joints to deteriorate. It can also cause pressure on nerve roots in your cervical spine.
3. Degenerative Disc Disease
This condition is mainly suffered by the elderly. In this condition, your intervertebral discs (the discs that separate your spinal bones) degenerate gradually. The older we get, the more likely these discs can dry up and weaken due to regular wear and tear. The drier your discs become, the closer your spinal bones come together. As a result, your spinal nerves can become trapped, causing a pinched nerve in the neck.
4. Herniated Disc
Otherwise known as a slipped disc, the condition is when your herniated discs put too much pressure on surrounding nerves and cause symptoms like pain, numbness, soreness and others.
5. Whiplash Injury
This type of injury occurs in the neck when you move your neck back and forth suddenly. This type of sudden movement can cause damage to your cervical vertebrae which can lead to a pinched nerve in your neck as well.
6. Spinal Stenosis
This condition is when you spinal canal (this is the location from which your nerves leave your spine) narrows. Your spinal nerves can be pressurized if your canal becomes too constricted. One common cause of this condition is arthritis, slipped discs, spinal tumors or an injury that may be putting too much pressure on your spinal cord.
7. Facet Disease
In this disease, the joints coated in lubricating fluid which connects your vertebrae to your spinal column can wear away which causes painful spasms when the bones rub against each other.
8. Bone Spurs (Osteophytes)
Bone spurs are your body's natural response to the diminishing of your bone mass, perceived loss of stability, and bone-on-bone contact. These growths happen near your spinal joints.
Home Remedies for Pinched Nerve in Neck
1. Rest Your Neck
It should be common sense, but it's amazing how many people don't even think of taking it easy. Most pinched nerves can be cured early on by simply taking it easy. Make sure you don't stand/sit awkwardly for prolonged hours and make sure your pillows are not causing more strain to your neck. Also make sure you don't sit on the computer for too long, as it's a common cause for pinched nerves in your neck. Just keep in mind that sitting still for too long isn't the cure. In fact, it can make your neck feel stiffer. The key is to take things easy and avoid further neck strain.
2. Apply Hot and Cold Compress
Hot and cold compress can help relieve a lot of your pain, muscle spasms and in some cases, inflammation which can all be caused due to a pinched nerve. However, make sure you always put a barrier between the hot/cold pack and your skin. For best results, rotate between hot and cold compresses every 20-30 minutes.
3. Use OTC Products
Use Over the counter products like ibuprofen and naproxen. Both of these can help you decrease inflammation and pain that can be caused by pinched nerves in your neck. To help increase the effects of these medications, drink milk or eat something before taking the medication¡ªthis will help increase your body's absorption rate of the medication as well as decreasing stomach aches and the risk of any internal bleeding.
4. Massage Your Neck
Similar to exercise, massages can really help loosen any stiff or painful neck muscles. It's recommended to go to a professional who will know the exact amount of pressure to exert on the affected area, but make sure not to do any vigorous massages as they can cause even more trauma (even those that initially feel better). The massage should start slowly and then gradually increase the pressure bit by bit until you can feel the pinch in your nerve loosen.
5. Do Neck Exercises
Now, we don't mean any hardcore exercises here, but some light stretching can do wonders in actually relieving neck pain. Just turn your neck from side to side for about 30 seconds each way. You can also try to roll your shoulder and neck. Whatever you do, however, make sure NOT to strain it too much which can just make your pain even worse. Alternatively, you can go to a professional masseuse who will know exactly how much pressure to exert.
6. Change Your Diet
Another great way to avoid getting pinched nerves in your neck is by changing your dietary habits and ensuring your diet is rich in fiber. Patients who suffer from constipation claim to suffer more pain from a pinched nerve. Foods that are high in fiber include: broccoli, bananas, apples, spinach, potatoes, cereals, lentils, brown rice and pasta.
There are numerous treatment options for a pinched nerve in your neck, depending on the severity of it. It's also important what works for one person may not necessarily work for you so be sure to consult your doctor before trying a new treatment.