A pinched nerve in your neck can cause symptoms along the route of the nerve, including pain, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling. Cervical radiculopathy, the medical term for this condition, occurs when a nerve is compressed by a bone spur or by damage to one of the gel-filled discs that lie between the bones in your spine, called vertebrae. (Ref. __) Each of the 8 nerves in the neck, called cervical nerves, sends signals to different parts of the upper body, so symptoms vary according to which nerve is affected. Typically, symptoms occur on 1 side of the body only, and can be very uncomfortable. Treatment generally consists of a combination of rest, pain medication, wearing a soft collar, exercise and physical therapy, although surgery may be needed if symptoms are severe. (Ref. 6) Treatment Goals
Effects of Exercise
A clinical study of 3 types of conservative treatment for a recent onset of a pinched nerve in the neck determined that a 6-week program of physical therapy and home exercises can reduce pain and improve mobility equally as well as a program of rest and wearing of a medical collar, according to a report published in the October 7, 2009 issue of "British Medical Journal." (Ref. __) Participants in the control group were instructed to go about their normal daily activities, an approach that did not improve pain or mobility. Rec - collar b/c PT expensive Strengthening Exercises
Exercise programs must be individualized according to your general level of health and severity of symptoms. Rarely, however, some people's conditions worsen despite conservative treatment of rest, pain medication and physical rehabilitation. Immediate medical attention is needed if both arms or legs become severely weakened and the person loses control of their bowels and bladder.
If your doctor advises exercise when you have a pinched nerve, the treatment goals will include pain relief, improved mobility and less numbness and tingling. Pain due to a pinched nerve can make it difficult to turn your neck, and standing, sitting, sneezing or coughing can make it worse. (Ref. 4, p. 461) You may also have pain in the shoulder blade on that side, as well as in the arm, hand and fingers, sometimes described as sharp, shooting, or burning pain. You may also have unusual sensations called paresthesias along the route of the nerve, such as numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arm or fingers of the affected side. (Ref. 4, p. 461) Muscle weakness in the area served by the nerve can make it difficult to move the muscles in your hand, arm or fingers normally.