The Pinched Nerve In Your Neck
When we have pain down our arm one of the reasons can be a pinched nerve. What people do not tell you about these nerves is that a pinch on a nerve happens every day. When we move we pinch and compress nerves. This means that a better word for pain due to a pinched nerve is an irritated nerve. Nerve irritation can be due to a number of things. These include disk irritation, sustained compression, and trauma.
But what do each of these mean?
Disc irritation can come in a number of ways. Initial stretch or strain to a disk such as with herniation can cause nerve irritation. This calms down in time and heals just like an ankle strain. The initial pain can however be intense and cause pain down the arm due to swelling and an increase pressure on the nerve. With time inflammation decreases and allows the nerve to move well again. After 3 months the initial irritation of the nerve is behind you. This means at 3 months the nerve should feel better but the initial disc injury can take that long to recover.
Many times people wake up with pain down their arm. There is no reason for it and people will blame how they slept or their work for their pain. Compression over a period can contribute to nerve pain. Even healthy nerves will hurt with compression given enough time. In regards to work sitting or being in one position for a long time can cause the symptoms of a pinched nerve. Nerves like movement and feel better with movement. The same thing happens when we sleep in a position for a long period of time. Compression over time can cause pain similar to the pain we have when we get a bruise. It can hurt at rest and gets worse with certain movements. Just like bruises pain from a pinched nerve due to prolonged compression does heal over time.
Trauma is less common than other reasons for a pain related to a pinched nerve. Trauma causes swelling and inflammation. This type of issue causes pain for an amount of time that is related to the trauma. Hit your funny bone and your nerve pain can last minutes. Break your arm and the nerve pain may lasts months. The good news is that when you have a stable system (nerves/bones/muscles) after your trauma the nerve pain can improve.
What To Do About a Pinched Nerve In The Neck
Nerves like movement. The current thought process is that a nerve that is irritable, or easy to cause an increase in pain with movement, need to glide. A nerve glide is just like when you floss your teeth. The floss does not get stretched out but glides back and forth. This may cause less irritation than a stretch because nerves move a lot when they glide but do not stretch much. Nerve glides are the first step to get nerves to feel better.
The second step, or the first if your nerve pain does not increase much with movement, is to put tension on the nerve. This nerve “stretch” helps the nerve feel better with movement over time. Nerves that hurt from compression tend to feel better with stretch when they are ready to recover movement. This stretch can help you fully recover from a pinched nerve in the neck.
The best way to treat a pinched nerve is to get the correct intervention. A physical therapist can help you discover the correct treatment for your nerve issue. In your first session the PT will determine the potential cause of your symptoms and give you information on the recovery pathway and how to treat it. Nerves can take weeks or months to feel better but with guidance your nerve pain can feel better.
If you have nerve pain you can schedule a visit with us at Ascend Orthopaedics to discover your solution to reduce your pain.