Nerves are considered as electrical cords, which carry information from the brain to the rest of the human body. Those cords are the extensions from the brain that distributed into the arms and legs to go to the muscles and skin. Nerve is a microscopic size kind of cell with a fiber that runs several feet in length to its destination.
There are two types of nerves cell that live in the brain and different parts of the body; Central and Peripheral nerve. Central nerve is a nerve cell that lives in the brain or within the spinal cord, while the Peripheral nerves are the ones outside the brain and spinal cord and leave the spine to go into the arms and legs. “Pinched nerve” used to describe a kind of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves. It is the term for pain or impaired function of the nerve. It sometimes happens when the nerves control some muscle movements or relay sensations to the brain. Pinched nerve can happen in the neck, lower back and even in wrist or elbow.
Common Causes of Pinched Nerve in Neck
- Accidents: Probably the most publicised cause of severe neck pain is “whiplash”, the injury caused most often in car accidents when a sudden stop causes the head to continue in the direction of travel and then rebound in a whip-like motion. In severe cases, joints between the vertebrae, discs and ligaments are affected by this trauma, with very painful results.
- Getting Older: Degenerative problems affecting the spine as a whole and the neck in particular, seem to increase with the number of birthdays we have had! The wear and tear of daily living has had longer to accumulate.
- Tension and Stress: Emotional stress can also cause muscle tension resulting in pain and stiffness.
- Degenerative Disease: In the neck, the range of motion is affected by Osteoarthritis of the joints between the vertebrae. The discs can become thinner and less flexible and can bulge out of line causing numbness, tingling and arm pain. Stenos scan result in pain and numbness in the neck as well as the shoulders and arms as it causes narrowing of nerve passageways, leading to pressure on nerve roots.
What Causes Pinched Nerve in Neck?
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a nerve.
The pressure may be the result of repetitive motions. Or it may happen from holding your body in one position for long periods, such as keeping elbows bent while sleeping.
Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as:
For example, inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm (cervical radiculopathy). Or pain may radiate into the leg and foot (sciatic nerve pain).
These symptoms may result from changes that develop in the spine’s discs and bones. For example, if a disc weakens or tears -known as a herniated disc – pressure gets put on a spinal nerve.
Dangers of Drugs for Pinched Nerve in Neck Treatment
Millions of Australians depend on anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain, but the drugs are among the most dangerous on the market. Aside from significantly increasing your heart risks (such as a two to fourfold increase in the risk of heart attacks, stroke or cardiovascular death), NSAIDs are linked to serious gastrointestinal risks like bleeding of the digestive tract, increased blood pressure and kidney problems. Remember, this applies not only to prescription medications like Celebrex but also to over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, Advil and Motrin.
It’s very difficult to find a drug-based method of pain relief that is not saddled with severe side effects. The FDA has even recently limited the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription products and added a boxed warning due to liver toxicity concerns. Acetaminophen is actually the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
As for the opioid painkillers like OxyContin, they are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs and are a leading contributor to the rising rates of fatal prescription drug overdoses. Many become addicted after using them to treat conditions like back or neck pain.
But no matter what type of painkiller you choose, the bottom line to remember is that they do not come without risks! Unfortunately, if you visit your conventional doctor with pinched nerve in neck, a long-term treatment plan will typically include a drug-combination approach, using anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-seizure medications, muscle relaxants and possibly other types of pain medication as well. In other words, the answer for pain relief is drugs, drugs and more drugs — each one raising your risk of suffering potentially lethal side effects.
Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.
How to Relieve Pinched Nerve in Neck Naturally
- ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Heat and cold therapy: Alternating between cold and heat therapy alleviates pain, muscle spasms and inflammation combined with the pinched nerve. You should use a barrier such as a cloth or towel between the cold pack or heating pad and skin to prevent injury. Spine Universe recommends alternating between heat and cold every 20 minutes. You should use a hot water bottle, microwaved moist towel, or electric blanket for the heat therapy. If ice packs are not available, you can use an alternative of plastic bag of crushed ice or a frozen bag of vegetables work as cold packs.
- Exercise: Light stretching of the neck muscles might relieve pinched nerve in neck and neck pain. You can gently turn your neck to one side, and then hold for about 30 seconds. The exercise could be repeated in different positions. Your shoulder and neck rolls also gently work the neck, the shoulder and the lower back area. You might feel slight discomfort when implementing this thing. You absolutely should not overexert the neck muscles, which might promote damage or cause complications to you. Also, a simple hand-held massager might provide relief to the pinched nerve.
- Rest: The most common recommended home remedy for a pinched nerve in neck remains rest. Taking a rest for the affected neck area to enhance healing is critical. You are recommended not take part in strenuous activities in daily life. The clinic suggests that you should lie down periodically throughout the day to rest your head and neck. Besides, you can use specialised cervical pillows to support the natural neck and spinal curve whenever either sitting or lying down. However, too much rest is also not recommended because the neck and associated muscles might grow stiff and become more difficult to move.
- Support braces: in many cases a pinched nerve can be treated with rest and ice. If the pinched nerve is in the arm (carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome) the physician may recommend a brace for a quick period of the time. The brace limits the quantity of movement all around the nerve, which allows it to rest and recuperate. The brace also prevents the individual from movements that could further compress or pinch the affected nerve. A brace utilized for carpal tunnel syndrome covers the wrist and is extended slightly back. This is because during flexion (bending the wrist down) the median nerve in the wrist is further pinched. The brace for cubital tunnel syndrome in the elbow can be used to keep the elbow from bending too much which further stretches the ulnar nerve.
- Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic works by opening stuck joints, returning movement to the spine, and removing any nerve impingement that might be happening. If a disc herniation is involved, chiropractic is a natural way to provide a long-term solution. Chiropractic gets to the source of the problem, not just addressing the symptoms but finding the area of dysfunction and returning it normal physiology—in other words, making the area work the way it’s supposed to. When function returns, pain goes away. But mind you, getting rid of pain is not the only name of the game as far as chiropractic is concerned; return to function is the real goal, because when function returns, pain goes away on its own. Pain is nothing more than a warning signal telling you when something is wrong. Shutting off the alarm instead of investigating what is causing the alarm to go off only sets you up for a recurring problem. Once found, the solution can then be applied.
Chiropractic care assists pinched nerves by decreasing nerve constriction and relaxing muscles that are tight in the affected part thereby causing inflammation and pain. This is done via a spinal adjustment where the chiropractor utilizes his hands to directly apply pressure to the strained nerve. There can be numerous pressure points which the chiropractor might work on by shifting his hands in specific directions.
Although traditional medical care usually treats the part where the pain is apparent, chiropractic examines the entire body. The approach is particularly useful with pinched nerves as the pain could be felt in the leg while the injury originates from the back. Also, chiropractic care considers the overall well-being of an individual and addresses any issue that could have caused the pinched nerve.