Is Your Pain the Result of a Pinched Nerve in Your Neck? The Spine Specialist at Teton Orthopaedics in Pinedale, WY, Can Tell You
The relatively common condition known as a “pinched nerve in the neck” occurs when a nerve root in the cervical spine (neck) becomes compressed or irritated. This can cause the nerve to misfire, or send erroneous signals in the form of pain, numbness, and weakness that travel down the nerve’s pathway through a shoulder, arm, and hand. If you’re experiencing this type of discomfort, which is sometimes referred to as cervical radiculopathy, the spine specialist at Teton Orthopaedics in Pinedale, WY, can help.
In most cases, a pinched nerve in the neck is caused by degenerative changes in the spine that result from daily wear and tear. After reviewing your symptoms, performing a physical examination, and possibly evaluating the results of some imaging tests, the spine specialist at Teton Orthopaedics in Pinedale, Wyoming, can determine the precise underlying issue in your case. In general terms, here’s what may be going on:
- The spinal discs, which separate and cushion the vertebrae, can become dry and brittle with age. This may cause a disc to bulge outward, break open (herniate), or collapse.
- As the spinal discs lose height and become less effective as shock absorbers for the spine, the vertebrae can move closer to each other and begin to rub painfully together.
- In response, the body may produce protective bone spurs on the vertebrae surrounding a degenerated disc in an attempt to strengthen and support the spine. Bone spurs can cause the spine to stiffen, and also crowd the space within the spinal canal, which is packed full of sensitive nerve tissue.
The degenerative spinal changes that can lead to a pinched nerve in the neck are a normal part of the aging process and affect almost all adults to a certain degree after they reach middle age. Even so, not everyone will notice pain or other symptoms. Usually, discomfort develops only when a spinal nerve root is pressured.
You’ll probably be relieved to know that surgery is rarely needed to address cervical radiculopathy. Most people who experience mild to moderate symptoms find that their discomfort comes and goes, and is usually well tolerated. To help a patient get through a particularly painful episode, our spine specialist may recommend a soft cervical collar, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroid injections. If surgery ultimately becomes necessary, our spine specialist can recommend an appropriate procedure based on the nature of the symptoms, the location of the affected nerve root, and other individual factors.
If you’d like to find out if the discomfort you are feeling is related to a pinched nerve in your neck, contact Teton Orthopaedics to schedule a personal consultation with our spine specialist in Pinedale, WY. We can provide an accurate diagnosis and, if necessary, appropriate treatment.