What is a Pinched Neck Nerve?

Neck Pinched Nerve and Blair Chiropractic Doctors

Determining how many individuals really have pinched neck nerve is quite difficult, since lots of people report symptoms that could result from another accident, and some people don’t experience any symptoms whatsoever. Many different factors can lead to a neck pinched nerve, including past injuries, someone’s level of exercise, age, sex and bodyweight. 

While there isn’t just one single cause of pinched neck nerves, prevention seems to be extremely important.

A pinched neck nerve is a frequent source of pain among the elderly, people who perform a lot of repetitive movements, those with arthritis and anyone struggling with obesity. 

Although they sometimes heal on their own, pinched neck nerves can cause significant disability and sometimes even permanent nerve damage when left untreated.

Conventional procedures of treating pinched neck nerves usually include medications and surgery. 

However, research shows that non-surgical, more conservative therapies, including physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic adjustments, supplements and rest, can also greatly help reduce pinched neck nerve pain.

What’s a  Pinched Neck Nerve?

Pinched neck nerves (also called compressed neck nerves) are heavy root nerves that are very inflamed and irritated due to experiencing an abnormal quantity of pressure. Pressure can accumulate around a deep root nerve from surrounding tissues, bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons that protrude outward or are damaged because of an injury or inflammatory condition. 

Nerves are responsible for delivering all sensory information regarding pain, well-being and perceived risks from our bodies to our brains and vice versa. Significant nerves traveling from your brain through your spinal cord and down the center of your spine, connecting to a small chain of nerves that stem into your limbs. 

A  pinched neck nerve causes painful sensations along with things like “pins or needles” and swelling because increased pressure changes how nerves communicate.

One of the most troubling things about pinched nerves is they typically don’t just cause pain in one location — the pain often spreads, for instance, extending down to the shoulders and into the palms.

What are some common conditions that may cause a  pinched neck nerve?

Compression (increased stress) placed on a root nerve is the principal cause of a  pinched neck nerve, which interferes with normal signals regarding pain.

The causes of a pinched nerve can include: 

  • Herniated disc, caused from a disc ripping or weakening
  • Wear and tear related to inflammation and aging
  • Poor posture, such as forward head posture
  • Obesity
  • Repetitive movements that wear down or irritate tissue
  • Staying in one position for long periods of time, such as those associated with someone’s job or hobbies
  • Injuries, such as tears and sprains
  • Bone spurs, which narrows the spaces where nerves traveling
  • Arthritis and degenerative joint diseases


What makes a pinched neck nerve different from a herniated disc ?

People use the terms herniated disc, bulging disc, slipped disk and pinched or compressed nerve interchangeably. It can be hard to tell if a  pinched neck  nerve versus a neck herniated disc is the specific cause of your pain, numbness or tingling, but the great news is that both kinds of conditions are often treated in similar ways.

Although they’re closely related, neck herniated discs aren’t the same as  pinched neck nerves. Neck herniated discs and slipped discs can lead to pinch nerves because they cause the tissue to protrude into a nearby nerve canal. Usually they’re the result of aging/degeneration, injuries or various diseases that affect the nerves in the neck spine. These conditions cause neck spinal discs to start and expand, which can result in fluid leaking out, worsened inflammation and increased stress.

That being said, it’s important to understand the real causes of your pain to know how best to deal with it. Because there are a variety of reasons you might have disc or nerve pain, it’s important to work with your chiropractic doctor to determine if pain is at the site of the disk location itself or if it’s coming from a nearby irritated  pinched neck nerve. Prior to taking medications or receiving alterations, and undoubtedly before undergoing surgery, getting precise diagnoses is crucial.

Pinched Neck Nerve Symptoms

What does a  pinched neck nerve feel like? Pain, nerve damage and irritation due to a pinched nerve can sometimes be minor but other times severe. It is possible for symptoms of a pinched nerve, such as tingling or shooting pains, to come and go temporarily or to become chronic issues. Pain can occur in the cervical (neck) region, thoracic (upper) region or lumbar (lower) spine. 

While in certain cases pinched nerve pain goes off relatively quickly, in other rare cases that are left untreated, it may result in permanent nerve damage and chronic pain.

Although the location of a pinched nerve determines the kinds of symptoms you feel, most  pinched neck nerves have the following in common: tenderness and swelling, feelings of extra pressure, and some degree of scarring. Increased pain when going and trouble exercising are also common  pinched neck nerve symptoms.  Pinched neck  nerve symptoms aren’t usually located to one area; instead they cause “radicular pain” (nerve root pain) that tends to spread from one body part to another. The word “radiculopathy” refers to many different symptoms, including traveling pain, numbness and weakness. 

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in your neck or shoulder include: 

  • Pain, numbness and tingling that radiates from the neck down your upper back, shoulders or arms.
  • Symptoms might affect your elbow, hand, wrist or fingers.
  • It’s common for pain to get worse when you move, type on a computer or lift things.
  • You might experience “pins or needles,” inflammation, weakness, and pain associated with ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome, golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow. 
  • Your grip might become weak, and your hand or arm might become stiff.


Pain probably gets worse if you exercise, after waking up from sleeping, or when you are bending and walking.

To make a diagnosis of a  pinched  neck nerve, your doctor will likely perform:

  • A physical exam, testing reflexes, tenderness and pain
  • Assessment of your medical history, family history and injuries
  • Tests for muscle strength or fatigue, testing for signs of muscle atrophy, twitching, numbness
  • Testing pain based on movement, touch and pressure
  • Testing joint dysfunction through moving your limbs and chest
  • Diagnostic tests, including Digital Xrays, to look at disc alignment and configuration

Natural Treatments for Pinched Nerves

1. We focus on locating small changes in the alignment of the spine called a Subluxation.  These changes can have a huge impact on your Nervous System thus can lead to pain.

2. Stick to a Collagen Repair Diet

Eat a diet high in natural sources of collagen, which helps repair damaged connective tissues and adds cushion to spaces between joints and bones, reducing friction and pressure. Collagen is the most abundant natural protein found within our bodies and an important building block of tissue. Bone broth is one of the greatest suppliers of collagen, along with other beneficial nutrients, including glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid and amino acids.

Eating omega-3 foods, such as wild-caught fish such as salmon, grass-fed beef, chia seeds and flaxseeds, helps control inflammation and lessen the effects of aging. Get even more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds through organic vegetables, organic fruits and herbs like garlic, ginger and garlic. These anti-inflammatory foods help slow the effects of aging by reducing oxidative stress and supply essential vitamins and minerals to assist you recover.

High-fiber foods can also help control your appetite, and lots of supplies important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Obesity and excess weight may add pressure to nerves and make pain worse, so try limiting added sugar, sweetened drinks, fried or packaged foods and refined carbohydrates.

2. Posture Correction Exercises and Treatment

Proper posture is crucial for helping take unwanted stress from delicate joints, especially joints which have been injured or under increased stress for a long time. We focus exercises to help target the spinal problem at its origin (for example, sclerosis or spinal stenosis). Blair Technique is a postural therapy protocol that concentrates on fixing musculoskeletal misalignment. 

3. Supplements

Most people are nutritionally bankrupt and their diets very low in specific nutrients that support musculoskeletal healing. Therefore, taking some excellent supplements can make a significant difference in terms of healing and pain reduction. To heal damaged tissue, you need nutrients that help reduce inflammation, support tissue repair and boost growth factors. 

Some antioxidant compounds may also help support the body’s own stem-cell production and commence tissue reconstruction.

The following supplements to help with inflammation:

  • Turmeric and ginger
  • Bromelain
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • bone broth (contains type 2 collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid to help aid in tissue repair)
  • Bovine collagen (contains type 1 and 3 hydration)
  • Antioxidant-boosting compounds, including resveratrol, green tea, medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps, and berry extracts, such as acai or goji

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation call 207-846-5100.