Pain of any kind is never fun. A pain in the neck, unlike the common figure of speech for that event or person we have to live with, is definitely not good.
It is hugely debilitating and we definitely don’t want it in our lives. Although common for many reasons, a pinched nerve in the neck or that kind of pain, is never normal and should not be taken lightly.
Here’s an idea of what might be going on and what you should do.
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While an actual “pinched nerve” in the neck can happen, it’s usually the pain associated with some other dysfunction that makes it seem like it must be a nerve-like pain.
If you’ve ever woken with a sharp pain in the neck in the morning, you may be suffering from a poor sleeping position or the body’s reaction to some event or environmental change from the day before.
The root cause can be almost anything innocent: the first time in a while throwing the ball around, painting the ceiling along with a cool draft from an open window or maybe just a big, bad, stressful situation could cause that kink in the neck.
This morning episode is commonly referred to as “wry neck”, clinically known at torticollis.
Although more muscular in nature, it can have a nerve component and certainly the strain on these structures can create some discomfort. The muscle spasm associated with this problem is most times self-limiting and can benefit from gentle movement, massage therapy, acupuncture, physiotherapy and chiropractic care.
A collaborative approach is often indicated so that it’s simply not a matter of the neck feeling better afterwards, rather full function is recovered, no residual problems or patterns are remaining and optimum health is restored.
If you’ve ever been engaged at one of your regular activities and you suddenly look a certain way and hear a pop and/or feel a crack in your neck, you may have caused a sprain in one of the neck joints.
This sprain often brings swelling and inflammation that, when coupled with the joint aggravation, can also certainly feel like a pinched nerve. As before, a collaborative approach can best remedy this situation, however cold packs are a good idea in this situation.
Placing a cold pack on the sore area for 10 minutes, taken off for 20 and reapplied for 10, repeated every hour when possible will help with the pain, swelling and inflammation.
Trauma of different kinds can also cause neck pain.
After an impact or injury, it is always best to seek care to ensure proper healing. Immediate care in these situations involves protecting the area, resting it, applying cold packs and maintaining pain-free movements.
With trauma, whiplash-like problems can result and/or further concerns with head trauma and nerve injury should be considered and ruled out. It only takes an impact at as low as 5 km/hr to cause damage to the structures in the head and neck.
Seeking care with the appropriate providers in these cases, as minor as it may seem, is always a good idea not only to help with pain relief, but again to ensure optimum recovery.
A true pinched nerve in the neck may or may not have a variety of symptoms.
Not only may there be discomfort in the neck itself, there may also be pain, numbness, tingling, burning, other odd sensations into the shoulder, arm and hand along with weakness, incoordination and a general sense of unease into the upper extremity.
Pinched nerves, regardless of other symptoms, can also cause dysfunction involving the health and wellness of the organs, glands and blood vessels of the head, neck, arm and chest.
In these cases, a chiropractor is certainly a good place to start given the likelihood of spine and nerve involvement, as may be an osteopath, medical doctor or medical specialist like a neurologist.
Taking into consideration non-invasive options first and a more holistic and vitalistic model, chiropractic would come out on top…obvious bias intended!
With all of these cases, a similar underlying source can be considered to be at play.
It’s called a subluxation…sounds like “subway station”. When a part of the spine is not sitting or moving properly (dysfunction) it can lead to premature wear and tear (degeneration) of those parts in and of itself causing pain and limiting proper use.
The muscles that work with these parts have to change how they operate because of those mechanical changes and they can become uncomfortable and poorly responsive to their tasks.
And because the spine houses and protects the nervous system, there is an intimate relationship that can become irritated leading to many health related problems or symptoms.
Unfortunately, the most common and worst symptom with a subluxation is no pain at all.
They start to form like any health care condition, illness or disease…quite often without our awareness.
Once the symptom is present, even if brought about by some external event, the problem may actually have been there years, even decades before. However, these problems can be detected by assessment and examination. Finding subluxations early can prevent deterioration of the condition and can quite often lead to 100% recovery.
So, pinched nerve in the neck or not, it’s a wonderful idea to have your neck and spine assessed for optimum position, structure and function so that it can continue to do what it’s designed and programmed to do.
At the first sign of any symptom, be sure to take care of yourself to the best of your ability, knowledge and comfort. Otherwise, seeking the advice and care of a qualified healthcare provider is always a great option.
When it comes to your health, it’s never time or money wasted.