Pinched nerves (radiculopathy) happen when nerves originating from the spinal cord become pinched or damaged from constriction, compression, or stretching.
Pinched nerves in the neck and shoulder (cervical radiculopathy), as well as other parts of the body, may not need treatment and in some cases, the pinched nerves go away as the back and nerves heal.
When needed, treatment to get rid of a pinched nerve in the neck and shoulder may include:
- Avoiding activities that worsen the pain
- Alternating ice and heat packs
- Elevating the arms over the head
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Prescription pain medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Injections to reduce swelling
- Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen surrounding muscles
- Massage therapy
- Wearing a splint or collar
- Surgery to repair the problem
What Are Symptoms of Pinched Nerves in the Neck and Shoulder?
Symptoms of pinched nerves in the neck and shoulder usually occur in the area of the neck and shoulder where the nerve is pinched or compressed and/or running down one or both arms and may include:
- “Pins and needles” sensation
- Feeling as if the arm is falling asleep
- Burning sensation
What Causes Pinched Nerves in the Neck and Shoulder?
Pinched nerves (radiculopathy) usually occur due to a problem with the back that causes a nerve to become pinched or damaged, such as:
- Herniated discs
- A condition in which the discs between the vertebrae break open and bulge out, causing them to press on or irritate nearby nerves
- Disc degeneration
- Bone spurs form on the vertebrae, which press on nearby nerves
- Commonly occurs with spinal stenosis
- Other medical conditions that injure the nerves near the spinal cord
- Repetitive motions
- Nerve compression between tissues such as bone, ligaments, and tendons
How Are Pinched Nerves in the Neck and Shoulder Diagnosed?
Pinched nerves in the neck and shoulder are diagnosed based on a patient history of symptoms and a physical examination.
If nerve damage is suspected, tests may include:
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