Undoubtedly, no single individual wants to experience the pain that comes with a pinched nerve. But, precisely what does a pinched nerve mean?
A pinched nerve in the neck, cervical radiculopathy in medical terms, refers to an irritated or damaged nerve. This medical condition occurs if a nerve is inflamed or injured where it branches out from the spinal cord.
A pinched nerve can result in pain radiating through your arm, shoulder and can also cause muscle fatigue. It is common in older individuals as our spines undergo wear and tear as we age. A pinched nerve is not common in young people, although it can occur if one suffers a sudden injury resulting in a herniated disc.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Neck
So, how do you know you are suffering from a pinched nerve in the neck? Here is a list of symptoms you may experience when suffering from a pinched nerve.
- Pain – A compressed or injured nerve can cause pain around the neck area. Sometimes, a painful sensation may be the only symptom. However, you may experience other symptoms without any pain.
- Radiating pain through your arm and or your shoulder
- Tingling or numbness
- A burning sensation, often referred to as ‘pins and needles
- Weakness and muscle fatigue when performing certain activities
With a pinched nerve, the symptoms tend to worsen when you turn your head or strain your neck.
Risk Factors for a Pinched Nerve
These are some of the factors that increase the risk of a pinched nerve.
- Disc abnormalities – Abnormalities such as herniated or bulging discs in your spine can lead to additional stress on the nerve roots.
- Poor body posture – General poor body position or posture such sitting with your back bent can lead to spine injury.
- Traumatic injury – Traumatic incidences such as car crash or a fall can cause spine injuries that can lead to nerve injury or irritation.
- Weight gain – Weight gain can increase the risk of a pinched nerve as it puts additional stress on your spine and joints.
- Pregnancy – A pregnant woman is at a higher risk for developing a pinched nerve as pregnancy increase water retention and weight, which can put extra pressure on their spines.
Exercises to Relieve a Pinched Nerve
The length of time it takes for symptoms to disappear varies from person to person. If symptoms are severe and persist for long, you may need to seek medical attention. However, you can perform simple exercises for a pinched nerve in the neck if the symptoms are mild.
These exercises focus on stretching neck muscles to alleviate pain by reducing pressure on the nerves.
The ‘chin tuck’ exercise lengthens your neck to reduce tension on your nerves. Here is how to perform the exercise.
- Hold your chin and gently push it towards you neck
- Hold the position for about five seconds and release to relax
- Repeat the exercise for at least three rounds
Your neck’s range of motion can slightly reduce due to pain that accompanies a pinched neck. The ‘head turn’ exercise can help lessen the tension. Here is how to perform the exercise.
- Straighten your head and look ahead
- Slowly turn your head to the left and hold for 10 seconds
- Repeat the procedure to the left and hold for 10 seconds
You can repeat the procedure for about five rounds while incorporating up and down movements.
There are plenty of other exercises, including neck bend and shoulder roll, that can help alleviate the pain that comes with a pinched nerve. However, these are the top on the list. It is essential to seek medical attention if you have persistent and severe pinched nerve symptoms.