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Trapped Cervical Nerve – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Is Trapped Cervical Nerve?

There may be various points in the body where a nerve may get entrapped throughout its course but usually the nerves get entrapped in the spine which is the cervical and lumbar spine. An entrapped cervical nerve may cause reduced range of motion of the neck, irritation, pins and needles sensation in the neck, numbness and weakness of the neck muscles.1 The nerves may get trapped due to becoming tethered as a result of scarring, due to disc bulging, or due to an overgrowth of the facet joint. If there is a disc bulge it may put pressure and trap the cervical nerve roots causing pain and numbness and tingling in the neck.

Trapped Cervical Nerve

Where Exactly Does Pain Occur Due To Trapped Cervical Nerve?

The main symptom of a Trapped Cervical Nerve is reduced function of the cervical spine. The patient will experience pain along with numbness, tingling, and weakness of the cervical spine. This may be localized to the cervical spine or it may radiate to the arm. There will be neck pain in the midline radiating down the shoulders to the arms and fingers. With the trapping advancing the function of the cervical spine reduces and muscle weakness develops causing more discomfort for the patient. In some cases the condition gets so worse that the nerve becomes immobilized and subsequently the patient may feel improvement but in actuality the patient is worsening.

How Is Trapped Cervical Nerve Diagnosed?

Since Trapped Nerve is a complex problem and while the patient may be experiencing pain in one region the actual problem may be in an entirely different region. Hence, the treating physician pays close attention to the symptoms experienced by the patient and then whatever they suspect they order studies according to it like MRI or CT scans. In case of a Trapped Cervical nerve the patient may experience neck pain, headaches, pain in the face, shoulders, and arms. The patient may also have numbness or tingling in the face, shoulder, and arm along with weakness of shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand movements. If a patient experiences all of these symptoms then more or less the patient has suffered a Trapped Cervical Nerve.

How Is Trapped Cervical Nerve Treated?

When the first bout of symptoms of a Trapped Nerve strikes they usually start subsiding within a month with complete subsidence within a couple of months. The main focus of treatment during this time is to calm down the irritation by using NSAIDs like Tylenol and ibuprofen and physical therapy to correct the posture and increase stability and strength of the neck muscles.

In case of an individual has repeated bouts of symptoms of Trapped Cervical Nerve, then the treatment gets more complex and is divided into three segments which are conservative approach, open surgery, and Endoscopic Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Conservative Treatment: The conservative approach consists of physical therapy utilizing muscle balancing techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and coping strategies. Lifestyle modification is also a part of this approach. With time the symptoms start to calm down.

Open Surgery: This approach has more risk attached to it without a guarantee of complete relief from symptoms.

Endoscopic Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: This approach has shown positive results in cases of Trapped Cervical nerve. This includes patients who have been treated using this approach for disc bulge, failed back surgery, unstable spine, Lumbar spondylosis. All the above patients more often than not have been treated successfully with complete relief of their symptoms from Trapped Cervical Nerve.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 20, 2019

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