A pinched nerve in the neck can bring your life to a screeching halt. But the term pinched nerve is a term used by a lot of people, even doctors, to explain a wide range of issues and symptoms. If you have neck pain, shoulder pain or pain that runs down your arm you could have a pinched nerve. But there are scenarios that can cause these symptoms and not be an actual pinched nerve. So, if you are suffering and you believe that you have a pinched nerve, it probably makes sense to really understand what it means to truly have a pinched nerve in your neck and some of the conservative approaches to not only alleviate the pain but actually correct the problem at its source.
Our bodies are built in an amazing way that gives it the incredible ability to communicate, do its own diagnostic, adapt to its environment, heal and to regenerate. Our bodies accomplish all this through our nervous system, especially the nerves in our neck. The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord and all nerves that originate from that spinal cord. Your vertebrae are designed, first and foremost, to protect the spinal cord and the nerve roots that branch off of the spinal cord. When this protective mechanism (the series of vertebrae) becomes mis-aligned, a silent danger can now ensue. Mis-aligned vertebrae can actually put pressure on these delicate nerve that exit from a tunnel made of two vertebrae separated by a disc. This can happen to all of us without actually knowing it because our nerves have the capacity to become dis-functional up to 40-60% before showing any signs or symptoms that this particular nerve is under pressure and in trouble.(1)
So when a nerve in your neck becomes pinched that means that a vertebrae is misaligned and pressing on a nerve root or a vertebrae can be misaligned creating damage to the disc which can be bulging up against a nerve root putting pressure on it. But remember, it is highly unlikely that you will feel any pain at the onset of this pressure to the nerve. According to many studies this nerve pressure must remain for a certain amount of time before this anatomy degenerates enough and becomes overwhelmed to the point of letting you know that a problem is present and has been there for quite some time.
You may be reading this right now and have a tightness in the neck that you have chalked up to a long day or your age or some sort of story you may tell yourself. But the truth is you may have been feeling this stiffness, neck pain or even loss of strength for a while now and just haven’t given it enough attention. This could be mis-aligned vertebrae in your neck or upper back that have been there for some time increasing the pressure on the nerves that are associated with those vertebrae. And with each day more pressure and more degeneration occurs until suddenly you begin to get a tooth ache feeling in your lower neck or shoulder. Even this, you may chalk up to “maybe I slept wrong”. With each day that passes the nerve root will continue to degenerate until the pain now becomes a constant and more intense tooth ache and may even result in numbness, tingling and even a burning like sensation. This is not the beginning of a problem… it has been there for a long time and now your amazing body can’t deal with the problem anymore and becomes overwhelmed. The worst part of this scenario, which most people are not aware of, is that these delicate nerve roots consist of hundreds of thousands of nerve fibers. These nerve fibers have the all important purpose of controlling all function by sending messages from your brain to very particular cells, tissues and organs. Some example of the destination of the nerves fibers in your neck are your thyroid and thymus gland, sinuses, muscles of the neck, throat, shoulder joint and muscles, elbows, fingers, etc.
If you have pressure on these nerves and therefore road blocks to the information flowing from the brain through those nerve and out to the above names cells , tissues and organs……How well do you think those tissue and organs will work? As you learned earlier in this article, you could have lost 40-60% of communication and function before even the smallest symptom could show up.
Although I am an expert in this field of study and treatment i felt that the video below gives another perspective from a different practitioner. I felt this may be helpful as well. In the video below, this practitioner does a decent job of explaining how pain in your shoulder blades could be actually originating from your cervical vertebrae C5 and or C6. Although i don’t agree with his use of the generalization that pinched nerves and neck pain originates from the discal area only, i do agree that pinched nerves most frequently originate from the vertebral area via vertebral mis-alignments or discal pressure or bulge resulting from these vertebral mis-alignments.
Watch this video on How To Treat A Pinched Nerve
The cause of the problem, the vertebral mis-alignements MUST be addressed if we are to achieve long term restoration of nerve function, muscle and ligament function and diminish the chances of degeneration and arthritis setting in.
So lets summarize here. A pinched nerve in the neck is when a nerve root, that exits between 2 vertebrae, has prolonged pressure on it. Remember, You may feel it or you may not. But if left in that situation long enough… you will definitely experience the devastating effects.
Here is a short list of the possible effects from pressure on your nerve fibers in your neck:
I believe that everyone should have a thorough spinal check up for early detection of any situation that could cause pinched nerves and dysfunction down the line. In our office we do a complete and thorough history, comprehensive spinal exam, neurologic and orthopedic evaluation and confirm our findings with a spinal x-ray study. We leave no stone unturned to get to the underlying cause of your pinched nerve-like symptoms. Neck pain relief is our first priority. Getting you back to doing the things you love with the people you love is our long term goal.
When evaluated properly and thoroughly, correcting the root cause can be life changing. Over the last 26 years I have a developed a comprehensive and systematic system for getting to the underlying cause of pinched nerves and neck pain with laser focus and predictable results. We have appropriately named it the “Pinched Nerve and Neck Pain Resolution System”.
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1) Dr. Ch.H.Shu, University of Colorado Project, Effects of Compression on Spinal Nerve Roots.
A study conducted by Dr. Chung Ha Suh of the University of Colorado determined that the pressure of 10mm Hg (about the weight of a dime) on a nerve can reduce the function of the nerve by 60 percent and that the nerve will start to degenerate if the pressure is sustained for three hours. What do you think is happening to your organs if this pressure is maintained over time?
Yours for better health and happiness,
Husband, Father, Chiropractor, Certified Nutrition Health Coach, Speaker, Author, Professional Success Coach and chemist in a past life. My desire is to inspire hope, certainty and simple actions that lead you to your dreams and desires….. so you can get back to doing what you love and what matters most.
Chamberlain Chiropractic and Wellness 1025 Andrew Drive, West Chester, PA 19380 610-429-4920
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