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How do you detect a pinched nerve in the neck?

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Quick Answer

Signs of a pinched or compressed nerve in the neck include numbness, tingling, a pain that radiates out from the neck into the back, head and arms, and weakness when trying to turn the neck, according to WebMD. These symptoms continue until the pressure comes off the nerve.

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Full Answer

Another sign of a pinched nerve in the neck is a heightened pain when turning the head or using the neck muscles, as stated by WebMD. In most cases, the first treatment recommendation involves resting the neck and trying to avoid movements that rely primarily on neck muscles. In some cases, putting on a soft collar during periods of inactivity gives the neck muscles additional rest. Initial treatment also can include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen or naproxen, as swelling can compress the nerves.

When these initial treatments do not work, a physician may try stronger narcotics, oral corticosteroids or steroid injections to bring down the inflammation and pain, according to WebMD. He may also refer the patient to a physical therapist, who develops a regimen of exercises to give the neck more flexibility and strength. If the doctor detects bone fragments or other debris, such as scar tissue, pressing against the nerve, then surgery may be necessary to stop the compression and the pain.

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