03 Apr Options for Pinched Nerves in the Neck
It is always recommended that you begin with the least invasive options when receiving treatment for a pinched nerve in the neck, known as cervical radiculopathy. These include the use of physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the neck muscle. Soft collars may also provide some relief as they limit motion, decreasing the pinching of the nerve that happens when you move and they also allow your neck muscles to relax.
You can often get relief from your symptoms by adding medication to your treatment for a pinched nerve in the neck. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help the pain caused by nerve inflammation. Over-the-counter muscle relaxers can also provide a certain degree of relief as well. For severe pain your Chicago pain management doctor may prescribe opiates, neuropathic medicines like Lyrica or stronger muscle relaxers.
Spinal decompression is another nonsurgical option that may relieve the pain from a pinched nerve in the neck. It is a form of intermittent traction that is performed in-office by a qualified doctor. You lie on a motorized table that is controlled by a computer and programmed by your doctor based on your specific needs.
It works to gently stretch the spine which takes pressure off of your spinal disks, providing pain relief. The time and frequency of treatments varies from person to person with each session lasting anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes with approximately 20 – 30 sessions spread out over several weeks.
Epidural injections may be an option for those whose pain is severe and are looking for an effective alternative to surgery. Performed in an outpatient setting, the needle is directed using fluoroscopic guidance to the site of the injury and places anti-inflammatory
medicine in the epidural space. This reduces inflammation and pain and also helps with the healing process.
Many patients note improvement immediately or within the first couple of weeks and often only one injection is required while some may need up to 3 injections spread out over 6 to 8 weeks.
In severe cases or in those whose symptoms keep returning, surgery may be recommended when nonsurgical treatments for the pinched nerve in the neck have been exhausted. This surgery involves typically removing the disc and fusing the level in a procedure called an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The surgery should only be performed as a last resort.