Nerves are thin fibers which carry information from the body to the brain, and vice versa. The brain uses the nerves to tell muscles and organs to carry out certain processes, just as the brain uses nerves to receive information about sensation. For one reason or another, nerves can become trapped or ‘pinched’, causing a range of symptoms. However, knowing whether that’s what you are suffering from or not can be tricky without a professional’s opinion.
Pinched nerves in the neck are, unfortunately, quite common as nerves have roots along the length of the spine, starting at the neck. We move this part of our body around quite a lot and in a variety of directions, meaning that if we ‘jar’ it by moving awkwardly or too fast then we could easily trap a nerve there are the same time. For someone with a pinched nerve in the neck, symptoms can be wide ranging, from pain to a loss of sensation. The pain that people often comment on is caused by the compression of the nerve itself. The pressure that it is under sends a message to the brain that says ‘ouch’ and we feel that unpleasant symptom. Often with physiotherapy the nerve can become less compressed, thus easing the pain, but until then a patient may need to take painkillers to numb the pain messages sent from the nerve directly to the brain.
Pinched nerves in the neck can also cause stiffness, as messages from the brain telling the muscles to move cannot reach the muscles. They cannot reach because the site of compression acts as a blockage. The neck, as a result, is unable to move properly and the patient may have trouble looking in certain directions. Alternatively, the message from the brain that says ‘move’ may not so much become blocked, but disrupted, meaning that when the individual tries to move their neck a certain way, the neck and head shake.
For patients suffering from a pinched nerve in the neck, symptoms can include a loss of sensation. This happens when the messages from the nerves to the brain (about what they are sensing) are blocked at the site of compression. Numbness may occur anywhere along the length that the nerve spans, from the spine, along the neck and even in the face. This can be alarming, but it’s important to remember that if treatment is sought quickly then this is a very treatable condition.
Anyone suffering with symptoms of a suspected pinched nerve in the neck should seek treatment as soon as possible, as should anyone with any neck pain. This part of the body is extremely important and if nerves are left compressed for too long then they can start to become damaged. Nerve damage causes considerable pain, loss of sensation, loss of dexterity and tingling in the areas affected and also require a certain period of rest. It’s best, when suffering from a possible pinched nerve, to seek the advice of a professional before deciding whether or not to undergo a certain treatment.