Nerve pain in the neck is a common issue. People tell me when they hold their arm in a certain position for a long time it gets sore. They also say that nothing seems to help relieve this pain.

To understand this issue you need to understand the nerve superhighway involved. This runs from the nerve roots in the head and neck down to the nerve branches in the fingers. You may have a neck issue where the root nerve or cervical nerve is being pinched. So this will affect the whole nerve pathway.

Sources of Nerve Pain in the Neck

We need to first have a look at the source of nerve pain in the neck. Then determine how much of the nerve pathway has been affected and the level of damage in the neck.  This will need to be done via an MRI scan, the results of which will determine your next steps.

The MRI could reveal a bulging or slipped disc, pinched nerve or inflamed nerve from muscle repetitive strain injury. These could potentially inflame the nerve in the neck. They could also trigger and inflame the Median and Ulnar nerve further down the arm.

These inflamed nerves can cause spasms in muscles all the way from the neck down through the arm.  Pins and needles or numbness through the hand or fingers is a sign of a pinched nerve in the neck. Look at the nerves of the head and neck in the image below. Imagine that the muscles above them are held in a position without release for a long period of time. Then you can understand how they will contract and then push down or pinch the nerves.


Holding your arm in one position for a long time can cause the muscles to contract and create muscle spasm. You might be holding your arm still on the phone, on the computer or driving the car. The spasm should relax once the strain has been lifted.

However, if you are doing this repetitively then you are causing RSI – repetitive strain injury.  This strain can send the neck muscles into spasm.  They in turn can pull on your spine and cause the discs to shift out of position.  The neck muscles tighten around the discs to stop them from slipping.  This can cause a pinching effect on the cervical nerve in the neck which radiates through the arm. If this RSI continues unchecked, you could potentially slip a disc or have a bulging disc.  Now we have three potential sites which are all adding to the original pain site.  One can trigger the other or inflame the other.

Resolving Nerve Pain in the Neck

So, what can I do?  Early intervention is recommended when it comes to pain in the body. This can help you to stop the pain, rehabilitate the existing site of pain and prevent an RSI.  Changing your ergonomics so that your arm and back are better supported can help take the pressure off the muscles. This in turn will stop them from pushing in on the nerve.  Taking action by, for example, getting a phone headset or a back and neck support can help.

Dry needling, medical massage, core strength exercises and spinal realignment for the neck and back can help. They can ease repetitive strain on a muscle and help to realign the spine, thus taking pressure off the nerve roots.  An MRI scan is critical in the early stages of neck and arm pain to prevent damage to the spine. Leaving nerve pain unchecked can lead to more severe issues. You could face more invasive procedures to contain the damage to spinal discs and the nerves of the neck .

If you are currently experiencing Neck  Pain and would like a consultation for a roadmap out of neck pain please contact us.