Pinched Nerve Neck Symptoms
Pinched or entrapped nerves can cause myriad symptoms. As each nerve is responsible for the sending and receiving of signals from specific body parts they can cause symptoms far from the actual site of nerve compression. Common symptoms of pinched nerves include pain, numbness, radiculopathy, weakness in the associated muscles, and poor dexterity in the extremities. Paraesthesia, or pins and needles, often occur as the nerve is compressed. A similar sensation can occur when a nerve has been temporarily compressed, by an awkward sleeping position for example, and is comparable to the feeling of a 'dead leg' or a limb that has 'fallen asleep'. The difference is that a pinched nerve neck is often more of a chronic problem and may lead to permanent damage and debility.
Consequences of Pinched Nerves in the Neck
Pinched nerves in the neck can have far-reaching consequences as they innervate the muscles in the arm, neck, chest, back, and the head. Neck stiffness and pain are common, as are muscular cramps and spasms due to faulty nerve signalling. Chest and neck pain can occur in some cases, and may mimic other conditions such as a heart attack. Head and neck pain are also possible consequences of a pinched cervical nerve, with migraines and cervicogenic headaches frequently reported.
Numbness and other Sensations
Numbness is commonly preceded by paraesthesia, which include prickling or burning sensations, and is experienced as a loss of sensation and paralysis of an area. Acute onset of this with no obvious cause (such as having sat awkwardly for a long time) warrants immediate medical attention, particularly if the patient is aware of any underlying cervical joint issues such as spinal stenosis, or bulging disc. Paraesthesia is usually temporary and reversible, although it often indicates an underlying problem if it occurs frequently. Numbness suggests a more serious problem with a nerve or nerves. Conditions such as diabetes also cause peripheral neuropathy, as does lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Having these conditions and experiencing these pains, paraesthesia, or numbness does not mean that the patient can be complacent as it can still indicate an underlying change in the cervical spine.
Symptoms of pinched nerves may also provide insight for the diagnosing physician as a cervical pain map associated with disc herniation in the neck can correlate the site of pain and paraesthesia with the specific vertebra involved in the pathology. For example, a disc herniation at C4-C5 is likely to produce shoulder pain and weakness of the deltoid muscles without tingling or numbness in most cases. Other sites of disc herniation produce alternate patterns of pain, paraesthesia, and numbness.
Last Updated: 10/09/2011