Trapped cervical nerve

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A trapped cervical nerve can trigger various symptoms. In most cases, it can cause diminished range of motion of the neck, pins and needles sensation, irritation, weakness and numbness of the neck muscles.

The nerves might end up trapped due to a bulging disc, scarring or overgrowth of the facet joint. In case a disc is bulging, it places pressure on the cervical nerve roots resulting to pain, tingling and numbness in the neck.

What are the indications?

The main indication of a trapped cervical nerve is diminished function of the cervical spine. The other symptoms include the following:

  • Pain along with tingling, numbness and weakness of the cervical spine that might be localized to the cervical region or radiates to the arm
  • Neck pain in the middle line that radiates to the shoulders, arms and fingers
  • If allowed to progress, the function of the cervical spine is reduced and muscle weakness develops
    Trapped cervical nerve
    Neck pain in the middle line that radiates to the shoulders, arms and fingers

In some cases, the condition becomes worse that the nerves are immobilized and the individual might feel improvement but it is getting worse.

Management of a trapped cervical nerve

Once the initial symptoms of a trapped cervical nerve occur, they usually start to subside in a month without any recurrence for a couple of months. The main objective of treatment during this period is to alleviate the irritation using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Physical therapy is also required to fix the posture and improve strength and stability of the neck muscles.

If the individual experiences repeated symptoms of a trapped cervical nerve, the treatment is separated into 3 categories.


The conservative approach includes physical therapy that focuses on muscle balancing techniques, coping tactics and cognitive behavioral therapy. Lifestyle changes is also a part of treatment. Over time, the symptoms eventually settle.

Open surgery

This treatment approach has more risk involved without guaranteeing full relief from the symptoms of a trapped cervical nerve.

Endoscopic surgery

This method has shown effective results in most cases of cervical nerve entrapment. This includes individuals with disc bulge, unstable spine or lumbar spondylosis. Almost all cases were treated successfully with full relief of the symptoms.

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