Medical Media Images

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What is a "Pinched Nerve" in the Neck?

A "Pinched Nerve" in the Neck is typically an inflamed or compressed Nerve (spinal nerve) in the Neck (Cervical Spine). The medical term is "Cervical Radiculopathy". Even though, the Nerve is compressed in the Spine, the pain is often felt in the Arm. In addition to pain, patients often feel numbness, tingling or weakness in the arm. The most common reason for compression of the Nerve is a Disc Herniation in the Neck.

Lets take a look at a Color X-Ray to help you understand the relationship between the Spinal Nerve in the Neck and the pain in the Arm. Notice how the Nerve starts out as a Spinal Nerve in the Neck and then travels to the Arm. So, when the Nerve is compressed in the Neck, it can be felt as Arm Pain.  This Image is Interactive. As you move your mouse cursors over the Image, Interactive Image Tags appear. Each tag displays text to explain a specific part of the Image.


AP Color X-Ray Cervical Spine of a Cervical Spinal Nerve
Interactive Color X-Ray showing the Spinal Nerve in the Neck and its relationship to Arm Pain.
The next Image shows the same information from a side-view (lateral). When you combine the Image above with this next Image, you can gain a 3-dimensional view and understanding of the relationship between the Spinal Disc and the Spinal Nerve. You can see how the Spinal Nerve travels right behind the Disc. This is why a Disc Herniation can cause irritation or compression of the Spinal Nerve, which in turn causes Arm Pain. This next Color X-Ray is also Interactive.


Lateral Cervical Spine Color X-Ray of a Spinal Nerve
Interactive Color X-Ray showing the relationship between the Spinal Disc and the Spinal Nerve

To show you how a Disc Herniation can cause compression of a Spinal Nerve, we have to take a look at a Color MRI of the Neck. This Color MRI Image shows you what a Disc Herniation in the Neck looks like. This Image is also Interactive.

Interactive Color MRI of a Disc Herniation in the Neck (Cervical Spine)

The last Color MRI Image shows you a slice taken across the Spine. Look at the whole body MRI on the left to see where the slice is taken from. This Image shows you a Disc Herniation which is compressing the Spinal Nerve. This Image is also Interactive.


Interactive Color MRI of a Disc Herniation in the Neck which is causing Compression of a Spinal Nerve

The vast majority of symptoms from a pinched Nerve in the Neck (cervical radiculopathy) resolve on their own without Surgery. However if the symptoms include significant weakness in the Arm, this may be a signal that the Nerve Compression is so severe that the future function of the Nerve is at risk. In this case, a Spine Surgeon should be consulted.

Barring weakness in the Arm, the symptoms of pain can often be alleviated by Medications, Physical Therapy and Spinal Injections amongst others.

If you like this Blog Article, here are some other related Spine topics from the MMI Blog:
What is the "Cervical Spine"? Shown and Explained with Color MRI and Color X-Ray Images
What is an Artificial Disc Replacement of the Neck (Cervical Spine)? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray Images
Cervical (Neck) Spinal Stenosis explained with Color MRI Images
What is an Epidural Injection? Shown and explained with Color MRI Images
What is Sciatica? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images
What is a Osteoporosis related Spine Fracture (Compression Fracture)? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray, CT, and MRI Images



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