A pinched or entrapped nerve is the result of the nerve sustaining damage due to compression from a disc herniation, arthritis, a bone spur or spinal stenosis. When this nerve compression is present in the cervical spine, neck pain as well as stiffness, numbness, weakness or tingling into the upper extremities may be present, depending on the location of the pinched nerve. This condition is also called cervical radiculopathy. It is most likely to irritate the nerve that exits at the C5-C6 level of the cervical spine. During the aging process, our discs lose water and when this happens, the disc spaces grow smaller and the vertebrae move closer together. The body will grow more bone in this empty space, the new bone growth is called bone spurs. The purpose for this bone growth is the body’s attempt at supplying more stability to the weakened section of the spine. Unfortunately, this added bone mass can narrow the foramen of the spinal vertebrae, the area where the spinal nerves run through, and cause compression to the nerve, resulting in a pinched nerve. Some people will experience symptoms from this nerve compression while others will not. If symptoms are felt, sharp pain or numbness and tingling may be experienced down the length of the arm, depending on where in the spine the compression is present. The arm may feel weak during movement as well.
A pinched nerve in the cervical spine may be the result of injury or trauma to the neck as well. In many people however, the compression of spinal nerves is the result of an aging spine. Even though the age process is to blame, there are ways to help reduce the amount of damage to the spine. Incorporating a regular schedule of exercising will help to keep the joints of the body properly lubricated and helps to keep muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints toned, flexible and strong. Proper body posture will help to keep the spinal column in the correct position, helping to avoid irritating the muscle groups that support the column. Choosing a pillow that offers cervical support during sleep will help both the cervical spine and the neck muscles to remain in a proper position during the night. Maintaining a healthy weight is also essential for a healthy spine as obesity puts undue stress on the spinal vertebrae and the muscles that support the spine as well. Chiropractic manipulations can help to alleviate pressure on the spinal joints as well as traction. A health history and physical exam will be necessary to evaluate the health of the spine, to examine the extent of compression involved and at what spinal level and also to determine if chiropractic care is indicated for treatment. In very severe cases, spinal surgery may be required if conservative care is not indicated for treatment or if chiropractic care is not successful in aiding the healing process of the compressed nerve.
References Cited in this Article
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