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Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Have you ever experienced a sharp pain or tingling sensation in your neck or shoulder area that just won’t go away? You may have a pinched nerve in your neck, also known as cervical radiculopathy. While a pinched nerve can be uncomfortable and even debilitating, there are several treatment options available to help you feel better and even prevent it from happening again. Seeking professional help is the best option, as they can help determine which treatment for a pinched nerve in neck is right for you. The team at Gottlieb Spine looks forward to relieving your pain. Call today to schedule an appointment!

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve, also known as nerve compression, nerve impingement, or cervical radiculopathy, occurs when pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues. This pressure can disrupt the normal function of the nerve, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Pinched nerves can happen in various parts of the body, including the neck, middle back, lower back, shoulders, arms, wrists, and legs.

What are the Symptoms of Nerve Impingement in the Neck?

Pinched Nerve in the NeckWhen a nerve is pinched, it may become irritated or inflamed, leading to sensations such as:

  • Pain may appear as a sharp, shooting, or radiating pain that follows the path of the affected nerve
  • Tingling, similar to a “pins and needles” sensation
  • Numbness, either partial or complete in the area served by the nerve
  • Weakness in the muscles that the affected nerve controls
  • Burning along the nerve’s path
  • Muscle spasms in the area of the affected nerve

What Causes a Pinched Nerve in the Neck?

One of the most common causes of a pinched nerve in the neck is a herniated or bulging disc. When a disc becomes herniated, its inner material can leak and press against a nerve root, leading to compression. Other factors that can cause a pinched nerve in the neck include:

  • Degenerative changes: With age, the discs in your spine start to naturally deteriorate, leading to thinning discs and the development of bone spurs. These changes can contribute to nerve compression in the neck
  • Stenosis: When the spinal canal begins to narrow due to spinal stenosis, pressure is put on the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Poor posture: Slouching or hung over while using electronic devices or working at a computer can strain the neck muscles and lead to nerve compression
  • Injury or trauma: Events like accidents, falls, or sudden impacts to the neck and cause structural changes in the spine, resulting in nerve compression
  • Repetitive movements or overuse: Certain sports or occupations may require repetitive motions that strain the neck. This can lead to inflammation and nerve compression

How to Treat a Pinched Nerve in Neck

If you experience a pinched nerve in the neck, there are several treatment options available to help alleviate your discomfort. For home treatment of a pinched nerve, you can try the following options:

  • Rest and avoid activities that worsen the symptoms
  • Apply ice packs to numb the pain.
  • Use heating pads, warm compresses, or moist heat to relieve tight and cramped muscles
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Perform careful movements of the arms and neck to maintain flexibility without worsening the pain

In certain cases, your doctor may prescribe the following:

  • Stronger pain relievers if the discomfort is severe
  • Muscle relaxants to reduce nerve compression
  • Short-term oral corticosteroids to reduce swelling
  • Steroid injections directly at the site of pain to reduce swelling and provide pain relief
  • A cervical collar allows the muscles to relax and limits neck movement
  • Physical therapy includes therapeutic massage, improve flexibility and range of motion, and strengthen the neck muscles

If the pain persists for several weeks or months despite these pinched nerve neck treatments, you should consult with a spine specialist for further evaluation. Dr. Gottlieb and his team can determine if your condition requires more aggressive treatment, like spine surgery.

Surgery for Pinched Nerve In Neck

Surgery is typically only considered as a pinched nerve in neck treatment when conservative techniques have not provided sufficient relief, or if the compression is so severe it is causing persistent symptoms of neurological deficits. The goal of pinched nerve surgery is to alleviate pressure on the compressed nerve and provide long-term relief.

Dr. Jamie Gottlieb performs several procedures aimed at relieving pain from a pinched nerve in the neck, including:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF): In this two-step procedure, Dr. Gottlieb removes the damaged disc that is pressing on the nerve. He uses a bone graft to fill the space left behind by the disc removal. The bone graft and adjacent vertebrae fuse over time, reducing movement and increasing stability.
  • Foraminotomy: This surgery involves removing a portion of the bone and other tissues that are causing nerve compression in the cervical foramen. The foramen is the bony tunnel through which the nerve exits the spinal column. By enlarging the foramen, more space is created for the nerve to pass through and relieves any compression.
  • Cervical Laminectomy: A laminectomy involves removing a part of the lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Dr. Gottlieb will often choose this procedure is spinal stenosis the cause of the pinched nerve
  • Microdiscectomy: A portion of the herniated disc causing nerve compression is removed.
  • Corpectomy: In cases where there is significant compression due to multiple herniated discs or bone spurs, Dr. Gottlieb may elect to perform a corpectomy. This involves removing the vertebral body and adjacent discs to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Updated on Jun 28, 2024 by Dr. Jamie Gottlieb (Orthopedic Spine Surgeon) of Orthopedic Spine Center: Dr. Jamie Gottlieb

Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, MD

Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, MD, is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with over two decades of experience treating chronic and degenerative spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis and ongoing neck and lower back pain. Dr. Gottlieb prioritizes building strong relationships with his patients, understanding their medical history and goals, and ensuring personalized treatment. Emphasizing non-surgical solutions whenever possible, Dr. Gottlieb is also well-versed in traditional, minimally invasive, and motion preservation surgery techniques.

Dr. Gottlieb earned his medical degree from Cornell University and completed his residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After completing his residency, Dr. Gottlieb went on to gain experience as a spine surgeon and an emergency response physician at hospitals and emergency care centers in Fort Worth and Dallas. He also served as a research associate at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego and has continued to publish his findings in respected publications.

More about Dr. Gottlieb
Orthopedic Spine Center: Dr. Jamie Gottlieb
6121 State Hwy 161, Ste 225
Irving, TX 75038
(469) 528-1169
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Top Quality Care at Gottlieb Spine

To reach optimal health, understanding and addressing a pinched nerve in the neck is crucial. Fortunately, a range of treatment options is available to provide relief and prevent reoccurrence. At Gottlieb Spine, we are dedicated to relieving your pain. Contact us today for expert guidance on determining the best pinched nerve treatment.