Cervical Pinched Nerves in Happy Valley

When symptoms feel like they shoot down your arm, into your back, are a bolt of lightning or you get pins and needles that won’t go away there is a chance that you have irritated a nerve. These traveling symptoms are also called “radicular” or “radiating” symptoms. It may start as a sharp pinching in your neck with a hot or electric feeling running down your arm or be a cloudy aching feeling that wraps around your shoulder blade into your arm.  The most common trait is the traveling of the symptoms or “radiating” symptoms. If a nerve is pinched enough it can produce weakness that is temporary or even permanent depending on how long and hard the nerve is being pinched.

There are many ways to irritate nerves and many of them can be simply and effectively treated by Physical Therapy. It is important to carefully assess what is causing the nerve to be irritated. As we age the height of the disks in our spine reduce and the boney passage ways become narrower. Some amount of this is normal and is easily accommodated by the body. When the space around the nerves becomes too limited pressure is placed on the nerve and symptoms will present in any area that the nerve connects to. Nerves in the neck talk to the shoulders, arm and hand, and upper back.  Symptoms can show up suddenly or gradually depending on how the nerve is involved.

Imaging studies can help understand what structures are involved, however studies have shown that just because an x-ray or MRI shows results that look suspect there may not be symptoms or symptoms may be coming from a different source entirely. In fact studies have shown that the majority of people without any report of back or spine problems had “abnormal” MRI findings. Physical Therapy evaluations focus on functional testing and interventions that restore your ability to lift, walk or work without pain or radiating symptoms.

Physical Therapy also can help restore and maximize the space that the nerves in your neck have to move through. Many times arthritis can cause bone spurs that block motion and irritate nerve roots. By addressing the stimulus that cause the bone spurs to grow and the arthritis to develop faster than is appropriate symptoms typically begin to resolve. Herniated and bulging disks are worsened by impaired postures and positions of the neck. Unloading techniques can help decrease the bulge of a disk, especially if the herniation is not severe. When treating radicular symptoms it is important that providers continually screen and assess if the symptoms that you are having are coming from an underlying medical condition. If your symptoms are unchanged or become worse with treatment ask your provider if you need further medical assessment. This is why your therapist at Ascent Physical Therapy has advanced training in screening and referral patterns for cervical radiculopathy.

While there is no way to tell the future, it is possible to reduce your risk of these types of injuries. Certain activities and jobs increase degenerative changes in the neck that can increase the risk of having a nerve injury. Careful planning and assessment combined with a highly specialized training program based on your needs and the demands of your job will reduce the likelihood of having nerve injuries. Most of these programs can be taught in just a few visits if there are no other complicating factors. In general staying active and strong, combined with a good diet and management of other health conditions is a good start to promoting good cervical spine and nerve health. If you have specific questions feel free to contact us so we can schedule a time to sit down and address our concerns.

If neck pain has been interfering with your life, call us today to get started on a plan of care that works for you. Ascent Physical Therapy is conveniently located off Sunnyside Road in Happy Valley. We also love treating our neighboring communities of Damascus, Gresham, Clackamas, and Sandy at our top rated physical therapy clinic!