A pinched nerve means that you have a nerve somewhere in your body that has become trapped or compressed between two joints. As with any nerve-related problem, this can cause extreme shooting pains as the compression on the nerve causes the related muscles to spasm. Pinched nerves can occur anywhere throughout the body; however, one of the most common places that these occur is in the cervical spine (neck).
Although there are a number of underlying problems that can cause pinched nerves, most cases can be traced back to one of two causes:
Injured Cervical Disc
The discs in your neck act as shock absorbers and stop the vertebrae from rubbing together. However, these discs can degenerate over time or due to a degenerative condition known as DDD (disc degenerative disease). Additionally, discs can become prolapsed or herniated and bulge out between the vertebrae, causing you immense pain.
The discs in your cervical spine (neck) can also suffer from micro-trauma tears to the exterior of the area. These tears can develop over time due to no external cause; however, they will not cause you any pain until the damage acts to pinch a nerve. If this occurs, the middle of the disc can then bulge outwards that will cause extreme pain around the neck area.
If the range of motion in your neck has deteriorated over time, then it is likely due to some degeneration in the discs. An x-ray can confirm this, and your chiropractor will be able to analyze the extent of any damage and how to treat your symptoms.
Synovial Meniscoid Entrapment
The synovial meniscoid is found in all joints around the cervical spine, projecting into the articular cavities of joints. If this becomes compressed between neck joints, it can cause you pain similar to an injured disc.
In these cases, your pain is much more local than with disc damage. These cases are typically harder to diagnose, so it's important you visit a highly qualified chiropractor with experience in these situations.
Pinched nerves are a purely mechanical problem, and as such it's best that you take a functional approach. Doctors will likely offer medication to suppress the symptoms, and although these help remove the pain, they do not treat the underlying condition. This is where chiropractic treatment can help.
The first thing your chiropractor will do is carry out a comprehensive examination that includes analyzing your health history. Following this, there are a number of neuromuscular tests your chiropractor will carry out to assess the cause of the problem and if there are any structural problems that need addressed. Your chiropractor may also take an X-ray to assess the condition of your spinal discs.
Once the problem has been assessed, your chiropractor will offer a full treatment plan designed to restore your neck to its original condition. Typical corrections involve manual adjustments with the aim of removing any subluxations (misalignments) that are causing excessive pressure on the nerve. By adjusting your neck, pressure on the nerve will be removed and the pain you are experiencing will gradually subside over time.
In addition to manual adjustments, your chiropractor may suggest deep-tissue massage or cryotherapy (ice treatment). These treatments don't fix the problem; however, they manipulate and relax the surrounding muscles such that the chiropractic adjustments are more effective. All of the treatments offered aren't designed to only treat the symptoms, they are designed to treat the problem and get your body back to full capability in a short period of time. Talk to experts like First Chiropractic for more information.