Recently at The North Wales Spine Clinic we seem to have had many patients coming in because they wake up and get a sudden neck pain. The first thing they all say is I think I have a “pinched nerve in my neck” trying to look at me with their neck stuck in a torticollis position. This is a classic story many chiropractors will tell you they have seen when people come in looking for neck pain relief after waking up with a wry neck. So we will briefly go through the two most common causes of a pinched nerve in the neck we see at The North Wales Spine Clinic, how pinched nerve neck symptoms overlap, and what you can do yourself for neck pain relief.

Pinched Nerve in Neck Symptoms

So you think you have a trapped nerve in your neck, but what are some pinched nerve symptoms? Well remember a symptom by definition is usually what you can feel or see. A symptom is usually what people describe feeling to our North Wales Chiropractor. So regards the patients we mentioned earlier who come into The North Wales Spine Clinic from Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey areas with their wryneck, commonly describe their neck pain in the following ways:

  1. I just woke up and getting out of bed, or in the shower, I felt my neck twinge then within a few hours it was really sore and now my neck is stuck.
  2. The pain is mainly in my shoulder, on top of my shoulder and into the back of my arm with pins and needles in my fingertips.
  3. My arm pain feels worse than my neck.
  4. If I raise my arm above my head it relieves the shoulder pain.
  5. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories are not helping relieve my neck or arm pain.
  6. The pain is a deep, throbbing, ache in my arm.
  7. I have never had a problem like this before with neck pain.
  8. The pain is worst in the early morning hours and wakes me up from sleep.
  9. I cannot find a comfortable position to get neck pain relief.
  10. Trying to drive the car was really sore and made the pain worse.

Sound familiar? These are some of the symptoms patients tell us when they come in to The North Wales Spine Clinic thinking they have a pinched nerve in neck or pinched nerve in shoulder. The question of what does a pinched nerve feel like is best described as a deep, throbbing, in the bone, worst pain you have ever felt kind of pain. This is because with a true pinched nerve you will be experiencing neurogenic pain. Neurogenic pain is different from inflammatory pain, like when you strain a muscle. Our North Wales Chiropractor can asses what may be the cause of the neck pain and decide if it is a pinched nerve in the neck or not.

Pinched Nerve Neck Causes

According to our North Wales Chiropractor the two most common causes in the Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey areas as to why people wake up with a wryneck or trapped nerve in their neck or shoulder are described below. But, to understand the neck better we suggest attending one of our spinal health workshops at The North Wales Spine Clinic. Just give us a call on 01492 621380 and we will let you know when the next spine saving education class is.

The Causes of Pinched Nerves in the Neck

Firstly it is a problem is from the cervical spinal disc. A cervical disc will be a problem by either prolapsing or herniating. Only an already degenerating unhealthy disc will cause the sudden non-traumatic neck pain. This is important because if you end up going for an MRI scan of your neck then it is common to find a bulging, degenerating dehydrated disc. So a micro-trauma tear could have occurred for no apparent reason and you ended up with a pinched, trapped nerve. Degeneration signs of the spinal joints (facet, uncinate) are another common finding and are usually called spondylosis on a neck x-ray report.

Secondly it is a synovial meniscoid entrapment. You may ask what is a synovial meniscoid? It is a naturally found structure in all of your neck spinal joints and it is thought it can get trapped between the two surfaces of the cervical facet joints.  One would commonly see this present as a more local base of neck pain without major signs of nerve entrapment distress. Trapped synovial meniscoid pain is usually one sided and over the cervico-thoracic (CT) junction area of the spine, which is where your neck meets your upper back.

Neck Pain Relief Self-Treatment

When you attend The North Wales Spine Clinic our North Wales Chiropractor will confirm after examining you if you have a true pinched nerve in your neck or shoulder then our Chiropractor will advise what we can do for you. Again, what we mean by a true pinched nerve is where the nerve root coming out of your neck is compressed either by a cervical disc lesion, like a herniation, or inflammatory chemicals from an irritated cervical facet joint. However, there are some things you can try do yourself before attending The North Wales Spine Clinic.

Don’t avoid getting an MOT at The North Wales Spine Clinic and booking in with our North Wales Chiropractor.

This is rule number one because even though you can try doing some home treatment if you have a situation of a nerve in your neck being trapped you can lose function in that nerve. Not to be alarmist, but pain is just the warning sign. There are worse things that can happen from having a trapped nerve in your neck that you may not realise like loss of muscle strength, bowel bladder changes from a severely herniated disc, or other conditions causing nerve problems like infection or tumors. If you live in Conwy, Anglesey or Gwynedd book in with our North Wales Chiropractor first to give you a diagnosis of your neck pain then decide what you want to do.

Try the Bakody Sign Position.

This is something where to relieve the pinched, trapped nerve pressure a person would place the affected arms palm on top or behind their head so the arm was raised.

Avoid prolonged sitting.

Sitting for too long will cause your head to shift forward on your neck even more than the wryneck position and place more stress on the nerve and spinal joints.

Use a Cervical Pillow.

Good pillow support will lower the stress on your neck joints helping by lowering the risk of nerve irritation. We are a fan particularly of the memory foam pillows. Memory foam pillows can come in many shapes and sizes with lots of different brands like Putnam’s for example. However, at the end of the day, any good pillow support from any type of pillow is another important tool for you to help control the neck pain. Read our article on cervical pillows: Can Pillows Help with Neck Pain?

Move your neck in pain free directions.

Immobilising the neck completely can also cause more aches and pains. Gently moving your neck in pain free directions without pain will still allow the healthy joints and discs to keep healthy. It is a fine balance sometimes between rest and movement.

Speak to your GP about Neurogenic Pain Medication versus Inflammatory Pain Medication.

Neck or shoulder pain at the end of the day is what you are most concerned with so chemically how can you control it? Chronic pain can occur from a severe acute pain episode so using appropriate medication can lower your risk of chronic pain. There are many different kinds of pain medications for pinched nerves, inflamed muscles and joints so speak to our North Wales Chiropractor if your current pain medication is not helping control your neck pain.

Keep Hydrated.

Many patients attend The North Wales Spine Clinic from Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey in a dehydrated state. Being in pain you can forget to drink water. If you are taking lots of neck pain medications and not eating/sleeping properly then hydration can become an issue and that is why hospitals always put people on intravenous (IV) saline drips. So remember to keep trying to have some glasses of water during the day to help create a better natural healing environment in your body.

The neck pain relief self-help list is not exhaustive. However, it should hopefully give you some ideas as to what you can do to help your pinched nerve in your neck or shoulder.