Most people use the phrase “pain in the neck” to describe something mildly annoying. In real life, herniated disc neck pain is much more than a minor distraction.
Pinched nerve neck and associated shoulder pain can interfere with your daily activities. This pain can also keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Whether pain started suddenly or is the result of an injury, you have many options for treatment.
Neck Pain Symptoms
Neck and shoulder pain feels different for every patient. If any of these symptoms describe what you’re feeling, you could have a bulging or slipped disc in your neck:
- Ache in the neck area that gets worse over time
- Sharp, stabbing pain when turning your head or making a sudden movement
- Pain that radiates into your shoulders
- Stiffness and soreness in the neck area
In severe cases, some patients experience tingling or numbness in their shoulders and arms. If you’re noticing weakness or difficulty moving your arms or shoulders, talk to a pain specialist immediately.
Neck Pain Causes
Many patients seek pinched nerve in neck treatment after a car accident or sports injury that causes whiplash. You can also experience neck pain from twisting or repetitive motion, such as after repeatedly practicing or overextending on your golf swing, or after sleeping in an awkward position.
Certain injuries, disorders, and even everyday activities can cause the nerves in your neck to become pinched and irritated. Our pain specialists will listen to your symptoms and order an MRI to see if you have any of these conditions:
- Herniated disc. The discs that cushion your neck vertebrae, also called cervical spinal discs, can bulge, develop tears, or become displaced, resulting in neck pain.
- Spinal stenosis. Some people experience a narrowing in the area around their spinal column, a condition called spinal stenosis. This narrowing occurs when two vertebrae slip out of alignment, spinal ligaments thicken with age, bone spurs form, or inflammation from arthritis reduces the space for the spinal column. When this happens in the neck region, they feel spinal stenosis neck pain.
- Osteoporosis. When you experience a significant drop in bone density, the neck vertebrae can develop fractures. If your vertebrae weaken and become compressed, you may feel neck pain from pinched nerve. Fractures can also displace vertebrae, causing pressure on spinal nerves.
- Osteoarthritis. As you age, the cartilage in your spinal joints may become inflamed and begin to wear away. You lose the cushioning between your joints, which puts pressure on the nerves in your neck.
Our Neck Pain Treatment Options
In some cases, particularly when neck pain is caused by minor overuse or by an uncomfortable sleeping position, at-home treatments like over-the-counter medications and either ice or heat can reduce your discomfort.
An experienced pain specialist can develop a treatment plan based on your description of your pain and an MRI. Most people explore one or several of the following options:
In the short-term, prescription medication can bring relief for pinched nerve neck and shoulder pain. However, medication doesn’t fix the underlying problem, so it’s not a long-term solution.
Steroid injections can ease swelling and inflammation around pinched neck nerves.
If a structural problem in the neck is compressing a nerve, such as a herniated disc or bone spur, your pain specialist may recommend minimally invasive surgery. Most patients don’t need surgery, and their condition gets better with treatment and time.
Talk to an Experienced Pain Specialist
If you have neck pain or stiffness that lasts, the Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care’s pain specialists can help. Schedule a consultation by calling 888-683-0716 or filling out our contact form and start recovering now.