Diagnose and fix a pinched nerve in your neck

Edited by Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo, Lynn, Jonathan, Ermin and 9 others


A pinched nerve, especially those in the neck, is one of the most annoying and painful experiences a person can have, and oftentimes it leads to an unproductive work or and overall frustrating day. This article will show you how to deal with a pinched nerve in your neck along with its symptoms and other facts that can help you detect pinched nerve early on.

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What is a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve as we call it is not really a medical term, but rather, a colloquial one. It is used only to describe the damage or injury caused to a nerve or nerves in one of our body parts. This injury can result from overexertion, constriction, compression and even stretching. You can have a pinched nerve when the surrounding tissue in your neck, such as bones, muscle, tendons or cartilages, stresses your neck muscle. This pressure can disrupt the nerve in your neck, ultimately causing tingling, pain, weakness or numbness in the area, which is annoying to say the least. Pinched nerves do not only happen in our necks. They can also be present in your lower spine, which can cause stress on your foot through the nerve root, and this can result in pain that travels all the way down your leg. Also, a pinched nerve in your wrist can also lead to numbness or pain in your hands and fingers, which is medically known as a carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diagnosis: How do you know when you have a pinched nerve?

  1. 1
    Numbness, "pins and needles" or burning sensations, and pain that radiates outward from the injured area
    One of the most familiar examples of this is a single compressed nerve that can feel like having your foot or hand "fall asleep". Take, for example, when you rest with your head on your wrist and it goes numb.
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  2. 2
    Pain in the neck or lower back
    This one can be caused by inflammation (tenderness) or pressure on your nerve root as it moves out the spine. If the pain is unbearable or lasts longer than you thought it would, you will have to consider having further evaluation or tests done by your physician.
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  3. 3
    Problems that can lead to similar symptoms of pain, numbness and prickly feeling in the hands or feet although without pain in the neck or your back
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  4. 4
    Peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow
    The types of these injuries can vary from minor, temporary damage to a more serious condition. Early diagnosis is paramount to prevent more damage or complications in the areas.
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Treatment for a pinched nerve in your neck

With proper rest and other over-the-counter treatments, almost all people naturally recover from a pinched nerve within few days or weeks. However, in extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to deal with pain from a pinched nerve. The steps below are some ways you can manage and deal with your pinched nerve.

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    Yes, this is no rocket science. Most cases of pinched nerves in the neck are caused by overexertion of your head. This can include moving your head from side to side while watching the Super Bowl live, or even on a widescreen television, among countless other activities. Resting your head is paramount when treating a pinched nerve. To accomplish this, all you have to do is lie on a comfortable bed and snooze away, taking care to put your head and neck in a comfortable position before sleeping, this means lying on your back.
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  • 2
    Alternating heat and ice.
    Shelley Branch neck compress.jpg
    You can also try treating your neck area respectively with hot and cold compresses
    This will reduce the swelling and tenderness in the area, removing stiffness and helping with the pain. You can apply ice about four to five times a day to numb the area, and hot compresses before you relax to encourage blood circulation in the area.
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  • 3
    Use a brace
    Pinchd brace.jpg
    If the pinched nerve in your head is hurting really bad, you may want to consider putting on a brace to support it. The brace limits the amount of movement around the nerve, which allows it to rest and recover. The brace also prevents you from movements that may further compress or pinch the affected nerve. However, make sure that your brace fits you well enough without making other parts of your head uncomfortable.
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  • 4
    Use medication
    Shelley Branch nsaids.jpg
    Various medications can also be used to treat a pinched nerve. Anti-inflammatory medications, for example, like ibuprofen or naproxen can reduce the inflammation and swelling around the affected nerve. Other medications used specifically for nerve related pain include gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica).
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  • 5
    Get a massage
    Shelley Branch neck massage.jpg
    A gentle massage on your neck can be a nice solution for a pinched nerve. Make sure that you talk with the massage therapist beforehand so that no further injury will occur during the massage. During your session, you may advise the masseuse to either harden or soften his or her hand force during the massage.
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  • Seeking help from professionals

    Shelley Branch nerve pain.jpg

    If the symptoms from your pinched nerve do not improve or only lighten a bit despite the above treatments, surgery may be recommended. Surgery may also be recommended if the patient develops additional weakness in the muscles. A pinched nerve in the neck or lower back a spine can be removed by a neurosurgeon by removing some portion(s) of the disc or bone spurs that are stressing the nerve in your spine. In other cases, it is necessary to take away big portions of bone or disc, the surgery may also require a spinal fusion to recondition the spine after saving the nerve.

    Treating pinched nerve for good

    1. 1
      Calcium up
      If you have a pinched nerve in the neck is caused by calcium deficiency, it will do you good to take supplements now and then to stop recurring neck pains. You can acquire this important nutrient either from natural sources like milk, for example, or you can take it in capsule or Tablet form.
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    2. 2
      Load up on potassium
      Sometimes, pinched nerves can also be caused by lack of potassium in the body. The obvious decision is to load up on potassium-rich foods and products like bananas, apricots avocados, and other nuts. Also, drinking orange juice allows greater absorption of potassium in the body.
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    3. 3
      Avoid acidic products
      Citrus fruits and acidic supplements, especially if you consume these foods before sleeping, can drastically worsen your symptom.
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    Tips Tricks & Warnings

    • Take time to rest your body whenever possible. Too much exertion will cause your body to collapse in time.
    • Ask someone you know who suffered from the same illness for some friendly advice.
    • Prior to professional help, do not immediately engage in a training activity, as this can worsen your neck pain.
    • Remind people around you not to touch your neck or play with it, as the pinched nerve in the neck is serious as it is.
    • It is better to take organic pills than synthetic ones.

    Questions and Answers

    Can you have a pinched nerve where your skull and neck meet?

    Yes. Have you noticed that some head pains simply won't go away? One possible answer to that is there might be a pinched nerve where your neck and skull meet. There are actually nerves located in the head that are connected to the spine at the first and second vertebrae. These nerves are right below the skull. So if one of them is pinched, it can cause a great deal of head pain.

    Yes, it is possible to have a pinched nerve in your neck. This is as common as having a pulled muscle or a crook in your neck which will limit mobility. If you have a pinched nerve it will be recommended that you go and see a doctor for assistance with this situation to get the best help possible.

    What does it mean when you have pinching in your head?

    If you have pinching feeling in your head, you probably have a pinched nerve in your neck. A pinched nerve in the neck greatly affects your head, and it causes you a headache. The nerves are located below your skull, where your neck and head connect. If you feel pain in your neck, you will probably feel tingling sensations in your head as well.

    A pinched nerve is like an electrical cord carrying signals from your brain to your entire body, or vice versa. The first definition is called motor or efferent nerves, and the second definition is called sensory or afferent nerves, where the nerves in the body send electrical signals to the brain for processing, including information about burning sensations and pain.

    A pinched nerve in the neck can affect your head. You will then feel burning sensations at the back of your head that then spread throughout your brain.

    This means that you have a pinched nerve in your head which can be caused for a number of reasons. You will need to visit a doctor in order to help get your situation diagnosed.

    How to find a good position in bed so I can sleep without pain?

    First, ensure that your neck is well positioned in the pillow that it cannot cause a pinched nerve. Then also try to flatten your body and back in the bed with your feet straight up.

    But the most comfortable way to sleep will depend on you, and also there are different cases in which some peoples usually have pain in order for them to sleep. The best possible position for yourself is the position in which where you can rest your body where it hurts and make it comfortable and avoid it from moving.

    Are pinched nerves caused by a calcium deficiency?

    Not all pinched nerves are caused by calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency in the body is only one of the risk factors which predisposes a person to have pinched nerve. The other risk factors include poor posture, obesity, arthritis, injury, repetitive motion and holding your body in one position for longer periods of time. The rationales behind calcium deficiency causing pinched nerve are:

    • Calcium deficiency triggers muscles to have spasmodic contraction especially on the neck which compresses the nerve.
    • If your body's signals are not properly functioning due to calcium deficiency, the extra calcium will build up and hardens forming into calcium deposits in the affected part which compresses the nerves, muscles and tendons causing pain and pinched nerve.

    In general, pinched nerves are not mostly caused by calcium deficiency in the body, but rather, it is one of the risk factors which predisposes a person to have compressed or pinched nerve.

    Fix pinched nerve?

    Pinched nerve or compressed nerve is caused by pressure or compression on a nerve. Nerves are a small network of bundle of axons that transmits impulses to the brain. These impulses may be in a form of hearing, touch, smell, taste, pain, motion, sensation or any other sensation felt by the body. If a nerve in the neck is pinched or compressed, it's function may be limited and the person may experience pain in the affected site, inflammation and tingling sensation going to his shoulder and arm. The treatment of pinched nerve includes:

    • Splint. The first thing for you to do is to limit the range of motion or the movement of your neck this is to provide enough time for the swelling to subside and to prevent further nerve injury. The best way to limit your neck movement is by simply wearing a soft neck collar.
    • Medication. The next step is to take medications to manage the symptoms of a pinched nerve. The common medications are NSAIDs like the Naproxen and Ibuprofen to manage the pain and swelling.
    • Physical Therapy. Physical therapy is also beneficial for pinched nerve especially on the neck and lower back pinched nerves.
    • Cold compress. Cold compress reduces inflammation and pain in the affected site.
    • Surgery. Surgery is the last resort in fixing pinched nerve if the pinched nerve fails to respond to medications, splinting, cold compress and physical therapy to release the pinching pressure on the affected nerve.

    The above-stated factors are some of the most common ways in properly fixing pinched nerve on the neck.

    Is there a treatment that really works for pinched nerves in the neck?

    There are a number of treatment modalities than can be explored relative to pinched nerves in the neck. Here are some of the common and effective known remedies:

    • Complete rest or moderation of routine activities is the most common recommended treatment in such cases of pinched nerves in the neck.
    • A neck brace may also be prescribed to be worn to immobilize the surrounding areas and to avoid further compression.
    • Depending on extent and severity of your pinched nerves in the neck, physical therapy may also be recommended which would involve mild to moderate exercises to help alleviate nerve pressure in the neck region and also to further stretch and strengthen the muscles around the neck.
    • Corticosteroid medications available in oral or injections as well as the use of naproxen or ibuprofen which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected neck region.
    • In severe cases of pinched nerves involving the neck wherein conservative remedies may provide very little or no improvement over an extended period of time, surgery can then be recommended by your physician; but this is relatively rare in cases of pinched nerves in the neck. Surgery is usually performed in aggravated cases of pinched nerves involving the spine or wrists.

    Hello. How can I determine if what I am feeling is a pinched nerve?

    I have some pain on the right side of my neck and have been feeling a cool sensation in my head all day with a little fuzziness and sometimes it feels like I have something crawling in my head.

    A pinched nerve in the neck can cause pain, tingling, numbness and pins and needles feeling, as well as other strange sensations. It's possible that you might be experiencing a pinched nerve. It's in your best interest to see a doctor if the symptoms don't resolve themselves with rest, NSAIDs and a cold compress.

    Is my nerve issue serious and should I be concerned?

    I was told I had a slowing of the ulnar nerve. The pain was mostly in my elbow. It has been a few months on NSAIDs and the pain in my elbow is mostly gone but I have a sharp pain under my shoulder blade. It gets worse when it is pressed against something (eg. sitting or lying down). My arms also have involuntary jerks in what seems to be a response. I have tried: NSAIDs Consult with a neurologist Yoga (just started) Chiropractor. I think it was caused by: Either repetitive strain or just before all the pain started I felt pain in my back after carrying a box.

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    Want to ask if there is any relation with tinnitus?

    I have neck pain and burning since many years ago and also I have spasms every day when I wake up. Since six months ago I started to feel disequilibrium and tinnitus in my ears and especially when I move my neck ....does this have any relation with nerve compression?. I have tried: I did MRI for the ear region and it was okay without any problems and also I did a hearing test and X-ray to the neck region and TMJ and everything was normal. I just have a medical history with gastric reflux maybe this has also a relation with nerve compression in the upper back. I think it was caused by: Nerve compression in the upper back

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    Injuries, misdiagnoses and how to fix the problem or suggest a treating practice?

    I've been diagnosed with CPRS and it isn't that all scans have come back clean and clear 5 months on its worse day by day I'm on Lyrica 450mg endep 75 Celebrex 200 targin 30mg and endone 5 mg as needed. We don't know where it is, but, the muscles are slowing taking away the pain, some days the pain is there, and others it is not too bad just trying to figure it out where it might be and how to treat this. I have tried: All of the medications as of page one rest ice heat nothings worked. I think it was caused by: I was hit in the clavicle chest shoulder region

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    Can neck tension cause tingles and numbness in the scalp and head?

    I have tension headache at the back of the head, I think that is what it is, but am worried it is nerve related - I wondered if stress on the neck and posture could cause the headaches? thank you !. I have tried: Painkillers, rest, deep breathing, anti-inflammatory, stretches, mild massage (but not sure how to do that) GP said does not think it is trigeminal Neuralgia (which was my fear) nothing sinister (e.g. no swelling in head) and I am under a lot of stress and anxiety, so prone to health anxiety and thinking the worst. I think it was caused by: Perhaps chronic stress, bad posture. Had an AC joint separate on the opposite side earlier in the year, so weakened shoulders and trapezius, started exercise of upper body again recently and since then and the stress, this strange back-head (mainly left side, temple, eye) started

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    I don't know that the problem is actually in my neck. But am having a hard time finding correct related information?

    Pain is in the upper back to the left. Exercise related. Started as feeling like a pulled or strained muscle from doing shoulder shrugs. The strained muscle feeling has calmed but now I have what feels to me like a pinched nerve. Starting about the area of the left shoulder blade and I get an electric shock almost type of pain that runs down the back of my left arm and stops just below the elbow. When it first seemed like just a strained muscle I had gone to my doc and he prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a pain med. These are fine for temporary relief but the problem does not seem to be going away. I am probably going to reschedule with him to talk again but was trying to do what research I could before going back to understand better. My neck seems fine and the problem is more the upper left back area. I understand that it is possible for the problem to originate in the neck and I am just feeling the issue in the upper left back and down the arm because of the nature of the problem but it just doesn't see to correctly cover what I'm looking for. Also I have tried both heat and cold and again both supply temporary relief but no real long term solution so far. I have tried: Stretching, Ice, Heat, prescription Anti inflammatory and pain meds, Foam Rollers, laying off upper body work outs, resting, hydro massage. I think it was caused by: Changed work out routine. Added Shoulder Shrugs and tried to go too heavy. Oddly enough was able to do the exercise fine but had the problem the next day. Might also be related to adding an exercise referred to as Skull Crushers for the Triceps area. But over all it was exercise related.

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    How do I get rid of pins and needles in my hand due to trapped nerve?

    Hello, I am experiencing pins and needles in my hand, during the day my hands are itchy and then at night I am waking three to four times as I get really bad pins and needles. I also noticed that I have a pinched nerve in my neck and think the two may be connected. Can you offer any ideas as to how can I alleviate the pain?

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    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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