Have you been told that you have a pinched nerve in the neck? Are you not sure what to do about it? Well carry on reading.
This post will give you a better idea of what a pinched nerve in the neck is, how it affects you and what you can do to fix it.
What is a pinched nerve in the neck?
A pinched nerve in the neck, otherwise known as a radiculopathy, occurs when a nerve from the neck gets compressed or irritated. I see this happen most commonly at the C5/C6/C7 region of the neck. These nerves supply the muscles of your neck, shoulder and arm. Any damage to these nerves can cause a variety of symptoms into the upper back, shoulder and arm regions.
How can a pinched nerve in your neck affect you?
Some people experience a sharp shooting pain down the arm, others may have a deep, nagging pain or even a burning sensation. Many people won’t experience any pain but may have numbness, tingling, pins and needles or weakness of the arm. Many of our patients battle to find a comfortable position and have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. The longer your nerves are pinched, the more serious damage is likely to occur, and the worse your symptoms can become. Whatever you experience, it is a cause of concern and can become very debilitating.
What causes pinching of the nerves in your neck?
There are a few causes of a pinched nerve that I see commonly in practice. The most common is misalignment of the structures of the neck. The neck has an ideal C-shaped curve (Cervical Lordosis). This ideal curve is often lost due to trauma, poor posture and bad habits. This places more strain on the discs and joints, which leads to wear and tear (degenerative changes) known as arthritis or spondylosis. This also leads to flattening of the discs, extra bone growth, often referred to as bony spurs, and narrowing of the canals that the nerves travel through. All of these changes can result in increased pressure or pinching of the nerves.
The above X-Ray on the left shows an ideal neck curve (Green Curve). The above X-Ray on the right shows a neck that has lost its ideal curve with severe degenerative changes at the C5/C6/C7 vertebrae. This is most likely where a pinched nerve would occur.
How do we assess a pinched nerve?
At Align Corrective Chiropractic we perform a variety of neurological and orthopaedic tests to determine how well your nerves are functioning. These may include reflexes, sensory tests and strength tests. We also take a good look at your posture and use X-Rays to measure the shape of your spine, determine how healthy your spine is and assess if you have any degenerative changes.
How do we fix a pinched nerve in the neck?
The common approach for a pinched nerve in the neck is to take strong painkillers. Lyrica is a common drug prescribed for nerve pain, but it has a long list of serious long-term side effects and only offers short term relief. These medications may make you feel better, but don’t do anything to improve your posture or the shape and alignment of your neck. It’s very common to hear a patient report that their pain returns as soon as they stop taking their medication.
We take a very different approach. Firstly, we need to determine if the alignment of your neck is “pinching” the nerve. If it is, then we can develop a specific Corrective Care program for you to improve your alignment, take the pressure off your nerves and get you feeling better.
The before and after X-Rays above show the corrective changes that are possible when following a specific Corrective Care program.
If you have a pinched nerve in your neck and want a better approach than relying on harmful medication, then please give us a call or Whatsapp us on 031 562 9180.