A pinched nerve in the neck is caused by compression on the nerve from other tissues in the neck such as bones, tendons, cartilage or muscles, according to Mayo Clinic. The compression or "pinching" of the nerve interferes with its ability to function.
Pressure on a nerve can cause pain, numbness or tingling, states Mayo Clinic. A pinched nerve in the neck may also cause pain in other areas of the body, notes WebMD. The wrists, elbows, hands and fingers are places where a pinched nerve from the neck may radiate pain.
If nerve compression is ongoing over time, it may cause the protective barrier around the nerve to break down, prompting fluid buildup which may result in swelling, scarring or extra pressure that can further disrupt nerve function, states WebMD.
The initial recommended treatment typically includes rest and stopping any activity that irritates the area because many pinched nerves heal within a few days or weeks, according to Mayo Clinic. If the problem persists, doctors may prescribe physical therapy, anti-inflammatory pain medication or corticosteroids. In the event the nerve does not heal within several weeks or months, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the pressure on the nerve.