Pinched Nerves in Neck
In our almost 20 years of practicing chiropractic care, we often see patients that come to our office saying they have been diagnosed with a pinched nerve, or describing symptoms of pinched nerves in their neck. A pinched nerve can manifest itself through many symptoms. In each case, the nerve is being irritated, feeling pressure from inflammation, or being pinched.
Symptoms Of Pinched Nerve In Neck
- Neck pain
- Spinal pain
- Mid- or lower-back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Pain radiating down their arm or leg
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the arms, legs, or even toes
They may also be experiencing a limited range of motion, trouble sitting for long periods of time, difficulty in standing from a seated position, problems bending forward or backward, and even sleeping in certain positions. An irritated or pinched nerve can even cause muscle spasms in addition to pain. Additionally, because the nerves control and coordinate the functions of the muscles and internal organs, pinched nerves can lead to other health problems.
Four Basic Causes of Pinched Nerve in Neck
Subluxation or Misalignment in Neck
A subluxation is a misalignment of a spinal bone that puts pressure on, or irritates, a spinal nerve that comes out and controls and coordinates different parts of the body. Subluxations, or misalignments, can cause pain or different types of muscle spasms.
Disc Degeneration in Neck
The spinal disc is the cushion or the spacer between the bones, and functions kind of like a shock absorber. When the disc starts to lose its height, or gets thinner, the disc has started to degenerate (degenerative disc disease). When a disc degenerates it makes the hole that the nerve comes out smaller. The hole the nerves exit your spine from is called the intervertebral foramina. As that hole goes from bigger to smaller because of the disc degeneration, it allows less room for that nerve to exit and can put pressure on the nerve.
Osteoarthritis in Neck
Osteoarthritis is what they call a degenerative joint disease. Because there are joints on the backside of the intervertebral foramina (the hole where the nerve comes out), sometimes osteoarthritis can cause degeneration or bone spurs which crowd into the hole (intervertebral foramina) and actually put pressure on the nerve.
- Disc Protrusions or Disc Herniation
This is when the disc protrudes, or herniates out, and pushes up or comes close to the nerve, and irritates the nerve which comes out and shoots down into the arms, and the legs, and different parts of the body. Normal movements can cause the herniated disc to rub against the nerve causing pain and irritations. The worse the protrusion, the greater the pressure is that is placed on the nerve, causing a pinched nerve. (The graphic to the right shows a herniated disc pressing against a nerve in the spine. Highlighted in red.)
Pinched nerves can result from any combination of these four causes, including all four simultaneously. In just about all four of these causes, due to irritation or to inflammation, pinched nerves in your neck may also sometimes result in a chemical neuritis, which means that the nerves can be irritated chemically from the inflammatory process as well.
Treatment of Pinched Nerve in Neck
When a patient comes in with symptoms of a pinched nerve in their neck, and they’re having any of the above symptoms, the first thing we do is a comprehensive consultation including a health history. And then we do a full examination with orthopedic, neurological, chiropractic, and physical exam tests to check and see if our patient has interference to the nerves. To understand what the underlying cause of the problem is we will test reflexes, do sensory testing, and various orthopedic and neurological tests.
In addition to the above diagnostic tests, we have computerized technology that looks at the nerves as they come out from the spine to go to the muscles and to the internal organs. We have the surface electromyogram that measures the electrical energy that comes from the nerves as they exit out of the spine and go to the muscles, and we have the infrared scan that looks at the nerves that come out and go to the organs. The infrared scan looks at the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic system, and the parasympathetic system that controls your organs. Additionally, we now have the newest technology, which is the heart rate variability (HRV) that looks at the space in-between the heartbeats. The space in-between the heartbeats should be variable — which is healthy. With some people, because they have interference in their nervous system, the space between heart beats has become more static, which means that the body’s ability to adapt to internal stress has decreased.
From there, many times, we will take x-rays of the spine to determine exactly what the spinal alignment looks like, see if there is any disc degeneration, as well as look to see if there is any osteoarthritis which can be effecting or putting pressure on the nerves.
Once this is complete, we will design the best treatment plan specifically for that patient to not only correct or alleviate the pain, but to correct the underlying cause of the problem, and strengthen and stabilize the effected area.
What Happens When a Pinched Nerve in Your Neck Goes Untreated?
If a pinched nerve goes uncorrected, or untreated, the cause of the problem — whether it be a misalignment, disc degeneration, osteoarthritis, disc herniation, or a combination of all four — will continue to get worse. Whenever a bone in the spine is misaligned and not moving properly the body will go through a degenerative change. It is important to understand that if someone has a degenerative process going on and you treat it properly and maintain it, you can stop it from getting worse. If you do not correct the underlying cause of the problem, the problem will get progressively worse and then some people will end up in the situation where they will need surgery. Our goal at Kempsville Chiropractic is to find and correct this problem, and to prevent someone from having to go through surgery.
Why Choose Chiropractic Care for Pinched Nerve in Neck
Did you know that pinched nerves in your neck can manifest themselves throughout your entire body? A chiropractor can help you discover whether your pain is from a pinched nerve. Left untreated pinched nerves will only get worse, and in a worse case scenario require surgery.
Chiropractic care’s treatment of pinched nerves in your neck is designed to find and correct the underlying problem, and not to just treat the symptoms. In our office, from a treatment standpoint, once we have figured out exactly what the underlying cause of the problem is, we put our patients into a treatment plan to correct the problem. Typically to correct this we are doing chiropractic adjustments, where we are moving the spine from the misaligned, or bad position, into the better, proper position that increases the range of motion of the joints. We work to alleviate or take the pressure off the nerve itself. In conjunction, we design a program of specific rehabilitative exercises to strengthen and stabilize the effected area. Some of the other things we may recommend if needed are deep-tissue massage therapy and trigger point therapy, as well as stretching and increasing the range of motion of the joints. All of these treatments are designed to not only get someone out of pain, but to correct the underlying cause of the problem and prevent this from progressing.
Unfortunately when a lot of people in our society have the symptoms of a pinched nerve in their neck the first thing that they turn to is some kind of over-the-counter medication or prescribed medication which helps to decrease or alleviate the pain or the inflammation. However, this does not correct the underlying cause of the problem. Obviously it makes someone feel better, but since it does not correct the underlying cause of the problem, the problem if it is not corrected will get worse and may get to the point where sometimes it is uncorrectable.
Call us at 757.467.5258 to arrange an appointment with Kempsville Chiropractic. Our doctors will consult with you to find the underlying cause of your pinched nerve and put together an individualized plan to correct it. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.
- Understanding Chiropractic Care and Your Health
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