Ways To Treating Pinched Nerve In Neck At Home
As we already know, our spinal cord is made up of multiple vertebrae. These vertebrae are separated from each other by intervertebral discs which work as shock absorbers and provide support to the spine. The intervertebral discs are responsible for maintaining the normal curvature of the spine.
Just like a car tyre undergoes wear and tear. Similarly, the inter-vertebral discs also undergo wear and tear and tend to degenerate as a part and parcel of ageing. The region of the spine in the neck is called the cervical spine. It gives off nerve roots C1 to C8. Nerve roots carry motor and sensory information from and to the brain. Neck and shoulder pain is one of the common complaints seen in out-patient departments. There can be several causes for neck and shoulder pain. A pinched nerve in the neck is the commonest of all causes.
What Is Pinched Nerve in The Neck?
Pinched nerve in the neck is called Cervical Radiculopathy in medical terms. It is a syndrome of pain and sensorimotor deficit caused by pinching or inflammation of cervical nerve roots because of compression. Nerve roots C6 and C7 are commonly affected.
Pinched nerve in the neck can be mild causing transient discomfort or it could be more serious causing prolonged pain and impaired functioning. It can be acute or chronic depending upon the cause for its occurrence.
Any person right from adolescence to old age individuals can have cervical radiculopathy. Its presentation varies depending upon the cause, duration and severity. In most cases, complaints are one-sided (pain related to spondylosis is usually bilateral).
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy
- Neck pain radiating to the shoulders or arms depending upon the nerve roots compressed.
- Numbness or weakness of the corresponding arm.
- Some patients may complain only of shoulder pain.
- Burning sensation along the affected nerve root.
- Pain is temporarily relieved by pressure or traction upon the nerve roots.
What Causes Pinched Nerve in The Neck?
There are multiple causes for having a pinched nerve in the neck. Some of the commonest causes are
- In young adults of 20-30 years of age, trauma and disc herniation are common causes for having a pinched nerve in the neck.
- Cigarette smoking and performing heavy manual labor are some risk factors for having cervical radiculopathy.
- Prolonged driving and people who frequently use heavy vibrating equipment are at a greater risk for having a pinched nerve in the neck.
- Among athletes and sportspersons, repetitive movements, over-stretching or sudden jerks to the neck are some major causes for cervical radiculopathy.
- Tumors and infections of the spine are less common causes.
- In older people, a pinched nerve in the neck can be seen because of the following reasons
- Degenerative changes of the spine
- Reduced disc space
- Formation of osteophytes
- Cervical spinal stenosis
Whichever may be the cause, it is important to visit an orthopedician or a neurologist to get your neck pain evaluated. They may run a few tests and maybe even an MRI scan to ascertain a diagnosis.
How To Treat A Pinched Nerve in The Neck?
Treating a pinched nerve in the neck aims at relieving pain and discomfort associated with it and to prevent its recurrence. Treating the cause is important rather than just the signs and symptoms. In maximum patients with a pinched nerve in the neck, a non-surgical approach to treating a pinched nerve in the neck is helpful.
- Immobilization – In most patients with acute neck pain, a short course of immobilization of the neck and complete rest helps to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Traction – Home traction units are easily available. Traction helps to decompress the affected nerve root. Traction should be used only when acute pain has subsided. It would be better to get complete information from your doctor regarding the amount of weight and duration for traction.
- Physical Therapy – This can be done at home with the help of a trained physiotherapist. A gradual physical therapy is useful in restoring the normal range of motions. Your physiotherapist may also suggest some neck and shoulder exercises which can be done safely at home.
- Hot and Cold Packs – Reduces pain and inflammation by improving blood circulation to the affected part.
- Use a soft cervical collar or a cervical pillow to provide adequate support to the neck.
- Consume Food Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Such as flax seeds, chia seeds, soya bean oil and fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids contain natural anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers claim that omega-3 fatty acids can be compared to ibuprofen in case of pain relief.
- Fruits and Vegetables Containing Vitamins - Like bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and oranges help in reducing inflammation and pain and swelling around the neck.
- Turmeric – This has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Turmeric is known to relieve pain in arthritis and spondylosis.
- Ginger – it is widely used for pain relief in patients having arthritis. There are many research works which support the use of turmeric, ginger, garlic and apple cider vinegar in management of neck pain and inflammation.
- Alternative Therapies
- Aromatherapy had been practised in countries like India, China and Egypt for nearly 6000 years. Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent and work beneficially on pressure points. Essential oils can be used by methods of inhalation, massage or just simple application on the skin surface.
- Massage Therapy and Acupuncture – Although these cannot be practised at home. They certainly help in treating a pinched nerve in the neck without tablets or injections.
Treating a pinched neck at home may sound convenient. Yet, therapies like massages, acupuncture, exercises and traction need to be given trained professionals. This also applies to the use of essential oils because they are very concentrated and volatile. The beauty of having these therapies is that they can be taken safely even along with conventional medications.
You need to report to your doctor immediately if you notice persistent or increase in intensity of pain and absolutely restricted movements of the neck.