A pinched nerve in the neck happens once a nerve in the neck is flattened or irritated where it spreads from the spinal cord. It will cause pain that spreads from the shoulder and muscle weakness and numbness that spreads down the arm and into the hand.
A pinched nerve in the neck can be called a kinked neck which usually happens suddenly and associated to awkward movements of the neck or trauma such as a whiplash injury.
Symptoms of pinched nerve in the neck
- Pain can be felt in the shoulder, arm and the hand
- Pain, weakness and numbness of the affected area
- Neck pain and headaches at the back of the head
- Take plenty of rest for fast healing of the condition.
- Maintain good posture when working infront of the computer such as the monitor should be at the level of the eye to prevent straining or spraining the neck. Avoid sleeping using thick pillows, sleeping on the stomach to prevent twisting the head and neck and worsen the condition.
- Take precribed over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin to lessen the pain and inflammation in the neck. Another alternative is to take an analgesic such as acetaminophen or muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine to lessen the pain in the neck.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected neck for at least 20 minutes for every 2-3 hours for several days to lessen the swelling and pain. Another alternative is compressing an ice pack against the neck using a wrap-around elastic support to lessen inflammation. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and worsen the condition. Wrap ice or frozen gel packs using a thin towel or a cloth before placing it to the affected area.
- Take Epsom salt bath to lessen pain and swelling especially when pain is caused by strained muscle. The magnesium found in epsom salt helps relax the muscle. In a bathtub filled with warm water, mix 1-2 cups until salt is totally dissolved and soak the body in the solution for at least 30 minutes. After the warm salt bath, follow it up with cold therapy for at least 15 minutes until the neck becomes numb.
- Wear a cervical collar to provide support and limit unnecessary movement of the neck while in the healing process. It keeps the neck in the normal alignment. The skin under the collar should be checked every day to prevent the development of sores or blisters.
- When sleeping use cervical pillows to lessen the irritation on the roots of the nerve, and lessen pain at night. This pillow places the right curvature of the neck while sleeping.
- Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for stretching and strengthening exercises for the neck.