Pinched Nerve in the Neck Inflammation
Inflammation or damage to the nerve roots in your spine can have neurological consequences. This pins and needles sensation is associated with cervical radiculopathy, and is due nerve damage near the cervical vertebrae. You might also call this a pinched nerve in the neck, which compresses spinal nerves in the neck region causing inflammation. The sensations can feel like numbness or dull aching. For others, it can feel like an electrical shock or they are being burned. It all depends on the severity of it and which nerve roots are involved.
The body has 8 pairs of nerve roots and they range through the spinal cord and spinal canal. The nerves in them are connected to the muscles in the arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers. They are also responsible for the sensory fibers that allow us to feel. The health of the person and where nerve compression takes place will influence what symptoms they experience. The underlying cause also plays a role in what is affected and to what degree.
Nerve Pain in the Neck
The sudden onset of pain can be scary at first. A person may be just fine and then suddenly start to experience pain. It can be worrying when it doesn’t go away. The pain may last for a short bit of time or it can be a persistent debilitating pain. Over the counter medications can help take the edge off while you wait for the pain to subside. You may need prescription medications to reduce the inflammation if you have chronic symptoms, or consult a pain management specialist.
What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?
The underlying causes of this spinal issue have to do with inflammation or traumatic injury. The injury can also be due to a bone spur or herniated disc. A tumor or type of infection may be connected to it developing as well. Radicular pain can be intense and it tends to move to several areas at once. It radiates from a core region and may affect the areas all around it. It can be felt through the spine, down into the legs, and along the back.
When a person’s nerves are compressed due to spinal stenosis it is known as foraminal narrowing, which is the narrowing of openings in your spine that the nerves run through. The pain can be intense with only one pair of nerves bothered, but it can be almost impossible to sleep or to take part in daily tasks when you have two or more pairs of nerve roots affected. It can be scary to notice you aren’t able to grip like you used to and other changes. Weakness can also make a person feel unsteady on their feet.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. They can be a sign something is wrong in the spinal region, and it may be due to cervical radiculopathy. They include:
- Changes in reflexes
- Pins and needles sensations
The symptoms tend to come along slowly and then increase in frequency and severity of pain. They tend to be more prominent with repetitive motions or quick motions. Such symptoms can be anywhere in the body, even though they start at the nerve root in the spine. This includes the arms, legs, and lower back region.
Vibrations can also cause these types of symptoms. It isn’t uncommon for delivery drivers and truck drivers to develop cervical radiculopathy. They may be sitting for long periods of time but there are vibrations within the seats from the motion of the car. This can take a toll on the spine.
Some patients experience pain in their neck and shoulders. Cervical radiculopathy is a rare spinal problem compared to other neurological issues. Your doctor will strive to rule out other conditions before they conclude cervical radiculopathy. Men are more likely to develop it than women. It tends to affect those over 50 years of age who already have some spinal disc concerns.
How to Treat Cervical Radiculopathy
It isn’t uncommon for cervical radiculopathy to last a short time and then go away. This may happen after the injury has healed or the inflammation goes away. Many believe they just have a pinched nerve and they will be fine in a few days after it loosens up. If the issue seems to persist or reoccur often, your nerve pain is something to discuss with your doctor.
Many patients don’t have to take much action to resolve the issue. By the time they think about talking to the doctor they already feel better. Of course, if the problem lingers or continues to come back, you should get in touch with your doctor. Don’t ignore numbness as it can be a symptom of many spine related problems.
Do your best to get plenty of rest when you do experience the symptoms. Try to modify your routine including exercise and work tasks to see if they are too much for your body to handle. If it gets better when you lighten up with what you do, it is an indicator you should make some permanent changes.
If you feel worse when you get up, your mattress may not offer enough support for your spine. You may need to invest in one that is firmer. The right pillows can help align your head and spine too. Patients often comment they didn’t know how bad their bed was for them until they made those changes. They feel so much better after doing so!
The use of heat or ice can offer some relief for the pain and it can reduce inflammation. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help your spine regain strength after an injury. Don’t let the numbness and weakness continue without speaking up. It will be harder to take control of the situation and regain that strength the longer it continues. It may become permanent or even result in loss of motion and paralysis if it is severe.
Cervical Radiculopathy Surgery
For debilitating nerve pain that doesn’t improve, spinal surgery may be the only option. It may be necessary to reduce the compression and pressure on the discs in the back. Surgery tends to be reserved for the most severe cases of cervical radiculopathy. The surgical treatment options available are typically anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, artificial disk replacement, or posterior cervical laminotomy and foraminotomy.
If you need a consultation about your cervical radiculopathy pain AllSpine has expert doctors who can diagnose your issues and come up with a treatment plan to give you pain relief in your everyday life.