September 21, 2020

Physical Therapy for a Pinched Nerve in the Neck


Imagine Physical Therapy

Read Time

5 minutes

What is a Pinched Nerve?

How do you know if you have a pinched nerve in your neck? What are some treatment options that may help you recover? The answer may seem difficult, but here at Imagine Physical Therapy, we excel at diagnosing and treating conditions like this! A pinched nerve in the neck is what we would refer to as cervical radiculopathy. It occurs when a nerve in the neck becomes compressed and causes pain that can radiate from the neck and down into the arms and hands. This condition typically produces tingling and numbness sensations that are commonly described as pins and needles. Weakness within the affected areas of the upper extremity is common, and pain may be reproduced when specific movements are done using those affected areas. At Imagine Physical Therapy we will give you a comprehensive examination to help determine the nature and source of your pain.


Imagine Physical Therapy uses the four tests that are most efficient in diagnosing a pinched nerve in the neck using the best evidence-based practice we have available. The tests include: Spurling’s test, cervical rotational test, cervical distraction test, and an upper limp tension test1. Based on these examinations, if you test positive for two of the four, the likelihood of having a pinched nerve is 21%, but the likelihood grows exponentially with 3 positive tests indicating a 65% probability1. If we find all four tests to be positive, the likelihood of having a pinched nerve in the neck is 90%1. We will also take assessments of the upper extremity’s range of motion and strength as a baseline to compare to the unaffected side. With the tests and procedures that we use at Imagine Physical Therapy, there is a 97% success rate1 with diagnosing a pinched nerve in the neck.


How can physical therapy help a pinched nerve in the neck? Imagine provides dry needling and manual therapy techniques to help promote healing and eradicate pain. We develop a patient-specific routine that will include strengthening exercises and stretching to increase flexibility. We will improve the strength of the neck and back to help improve posture and eliminate compensations the patient may be experiencing. Improving strength and range of motion with help support the affected areas where pain is most prominent and help build a resistance to the pain.


For all of your physical therapy questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment, Contact our team at Imagine Physical Therapy today!




1Wainner RS, Fritz JM, Irrgang JJ, Boninger ML, Delitto A, Allison S. Reliability and Diagnostic Accuracy of the Clinical Examination and Patient Self-Report Measures for Cervical Radiculopathy. Spine. 2003;28(1):52-62. doi:10.1097/00007632-200301010-00014