Nerve root compromise in the neck refers to a compression or irritation of the spinal nerves. This can lead to pain, pins and needles or numbness in the arm or hand, a reduction of strength in muscles of the arm and/ or reduced reflexes in the muscles of the arm.


Signs and symptoms of nerve root compromise in the neck

  • Pain, pins and needles or numbness in the neck, upper back or arm- you can often pinpoint a line of pain/ pins and needles with your finger
  • These symptoms may come and go during the day but it is not related to movement, i.e. they may be present while you sit, stand, sleep
  • Weakness in muscles of the arm, forearm or hand
  • Reduced reflexes in the muscles of the arm
  • Pain is often worst at night and you may struggle to find a comfortable position


What does the science currently say?

  • Scans are not needed initially as most people who do not have pain will have signs of a disc bulge, degeneration, prolapse as normal signs of ageing
  • If your symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment, scans may be indicated
  • As pain, pins and needles, weakness resolves if you rescan the affected region, changes and healing will not be shown


How can Physiotherapy help?

Your Physiotherapist will be able to:

  • Help you identify aggravating activities
  • Help you identify positions of comfort
  • Provide manual therapy to reduce pain, tightness, pins and needles and improve movement
  • Guide you through strengthening exercises
  • Identify whether your symptoms result from a true nerve root compromise or an irritation of the nerve along its course down the arm
  • Help identify when conservative management is no longer beneficial and discuss with you regarding cortisone injections and surgery