Cervical nerve damage is typically caused by some sort of trauma.
The nerve is more likely to be impinged than it is to be damaged and beyond "repair".
The body is a healing machine and is in a constant state of repairing itself. You could not stop it if you wanted to. Some patients have, hopefully, unknowingly not addressed their nerve damage for decades so it can take a while for the body to heal these areas.
The messages that the brain is sending out are likely not reaching their intended source so it is natural for people to think that some irreparable damage has occurred.
Any of the following common symptoms can indicate that cervical nerve damage has taken place.
The list above is just a minute example of the symptoms that may occur. This diagram outlines some of the functions performed by each nerve root. Each nerve root has over 300,000 individual nerve fibers each with their own function. Each vertebra has 2 nerve roots so with 7 cervical vertebrae there are over 4,200,000 responsible functions.
Nerve impingement occurs when one of the 7 cervical vertebrae become twisted. The twisted vertebrae narrow the foramen, also known as cervical spinal stenosis, through which the nerve root passes. Pinched nerve and twisted vertebrae are the more common terms used but the correct medical term is vertebral subluxation; they all refer to the same thing.
Most subluxations are caused by some kind of trauma and the most common cervical trauma is likely motor vehicle accidents. The human head weighs about 10 pounds and even car wrecks occurring at low speeds will create more inertial force than the neck can withstand. This inertial force creates a whiplash effect as the head snaps with the force exerted and then rebounds suddenly as it hits the limits of the neck.
In a trauma such as a car accident the muscles and ligaments are stretched beyond their limits. The ligament sprain has the greatest impact on the vertebrae. The ligaments provide the "centering" effect for our bones when we are at rest or in a neutral position keeping everything properly aligned.
When the ligaments are stretched beyond their natural limits they act like a rubber band that is stretched further than it is designed. It is not as strong as it once was and will not retract to its original length. With the forces no longer being equal the opposing ligament on the other side of the vertebrae is now able to pull the vertebrae out of alignment. This is what narrows the foramen or hole through which the nerve root passes creating the nerve impingement and cervical nerve damage.
The strained ligament will heal but two things will happen if corrective action is not taken immediately after a trauma. The uninjured "normal" ligament is now shorter since its opposing ligament is now weakened. Over time the normal ligament will "grow into" its new shortened position. On the other side of the equation is the injured ligament. The injured ligament will also "grow into" its new longer position.
This all means that as the injured ligament heals the vertebrae is now going to be permanently out of alignment and impinging the nerve to varying degrees.
You may wonder why your symptoms likely come and go. The narrowing of the nerve passageway will impinge the nerve to varying degrees depending on the position we place our neck in. When we sleep at night we often contort our head in various positions. Any of these can further twist the misaligned vertebrae and place more pressure on the nerve creating more symptoms.
Stress is something else that will help to bring on symptoms. When we are stressed our muscles become tight. Since we are left or right handed our muscles are seldom equally balanced and they will pull disproportionately. If the tight muscles are attached to the misaligned vertebrae they can pull it further out of alignment and impinged the nerve further creating more symptoms.
The only doctor and back pain specialist trained to treat cervical nerve damage caused by misaligned vertebrae or subluxations is a chiropractor. A chiropractor is trained to identify subluxations by palpating the spine, reading x-rays and kinesiological testing.
A chiropractic adjustment focuses on the misaligned vertebrae and moves it in the direction that it needs to go.
Misaligned vertebrae are similar to misaligned teeth. Some people's teeth are horribly misaligned and it will take several years of wearing braces to correct them while some people have minor misalignments that will take much less time.
The severity of the trauma and the length of time between the trauma and when chiropractic treatment is sought will determine the treatment time.
It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for the chiropractor to realign the vertebrae to treat the cervical nerve damage.
Subluxations will not heal themselves. If you feel that you have a pinched nerve you are encouraged to have an evaluation by a chiropractor. Most people focus on the pain that cervical nerve damage can inflict but the other symptoms can be a lot more serious. Do not procrastinate with the only body you have.
These 3D animations with voice-over are to help you better understand your condition and the possible course of action to treat it.
The simple to use interface will allow you to see and hear the explainations of many conditions, inculding their treatments. The Amazing Spine area will explain the human spine and each vertebrea's affect on the internal organs and nerves.
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