So you wake up in the night with weird painful, tingling sensations running from your neck and shoulders right down to your fingers. What is it? You ask friends and colleagues. “It’s a pinched nerve in your neck, buddy!” says a helpful soul.
A pinched nerve in neck? A pinched nerve in neck? A pinched nerve in neck? What the heck is that?
Read on, my friend.
What is a nerve?
A nerve is part of our nervous system. Nerves are very much like a bundle of cables through which signals from the brain (in the form of electrochemical impulses) are sent to all the various parts of our body. So if we were to, for example, accidentally touch a hot stove, nerves carry the feeling of heat from our fingers to our brains and then carry the message of “LET GO OF THE STOVE NOW, MORON!” from our brain down to our fingers in a matter of nanoseconds.
What is a pinched nerve? How does a nerve get pinched?
A pinched nerve is one of a group of problems known as Radiculopathy. This happens when a nerve or nerves in your body is affected and not able to function properly. The nerves may be inflamed, pinched or not working effectively due to a problem with blood flow.
A pinched nerve in neck (also known as cervical radiculopathy) is a common condition. Rest assured that you are not alone in your sufferings. Despite what you might have heard from the rumor mill, a pinched nerve in neck though often painful, and sometimes even disabling, a vast majority of patients suffering pinched nerve in neck require only some forms of treatment and not surgery.
A pinched nerve occurs when excessive pressure is applied to the affected nerve by bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons that surround it. This is sometimes due to injury or pregnancy. The nerve’s function is disrupted, causing you pain, tingling, numbness and even weakness.
These unpleasant sensations can sometimes occur far from the actual site of the nerve damage. This is known as referred pain. Referred pain happens because the pinched nerve’s signal is flawed. The area receiving the flawed signal is affected and thus, you feel pain, tingles and other weird sensations. As nerves that control the shoulder, arm and hand start in the neck within the spinal cord, a pinched nerve in the neck will affect your shoulder, arm and hand.