Can Sciatica Cause Neck Pain?

Burning, sharp, radiating pain—that is what you have been feeling for the last few days. You know others who experienced these same sciatica symptoms in their back. However, the pain you are feeling is in your neck. You start to wonder: “Can sciatica cause pain in my neck?”

If discomfort in your neck is deeply impacting your quality of life, schedule an appointment at Virgin Islands Neurology today! We can assist you in receiving the proper care to alleviate your discomfort. Our office is conveniently located in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A man wondering if sciatica is causing his neck pain.

Does Sciatica Cause Neck Pain?

No, sciatica does not cause neck pain. Sciatica has a distant burning or sharp radiating back pain that occurs when your sciatic nerve is compressed by soft tissue or bone. If you are experiencing this kind of discomfort, it can be easy to assume that sciatica is the source of your pain.

There is a commonality between sciatica and pain in your neck—nerve pain. When your sciatic nerve is compressed, it can cause radiating pain in your lower back, hips, buttocks, and down each of your legs. However, your sciatic nerve does not travel to your neck.

If there’s nerve compression in your neck, it is called cervical radiculopathy, commonly known as a “pinched nerve.” Once the pressure disrupts your nerve’s function, it can result in pain, numbness, or tingling.

A man feeling relieved after his cervical radiculopathy treatment.

What Is the Difference Between Sciatica and Cervical Radiculopathy?

While cervical radiculopathy and sciatica are both forms of nerve pain, the main difference is the location of their respective nerve roots.

Cervical radiculopathy affects nerves that branch out from the cervical spine, which supports your head, protects your spinal cord, and allows you to move your head. Since your cervical nerve roots travel, they can affect not only your neck but also your arms and shoulders as well.

Sciatica, on the other hand, affects only one nerve root in the lower back.

What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy has two main causes:

  1. A herniated disc in your neck
  2. Degenerative disc disease

While anyone can develop cervical radiculopathy, it is more commonly seen in adults.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The most common symptoms of a pinched nerve in your neck include:

Some have also pointed out that certain neck movements, such as turning their head or extending their neck, have resulted in an increase in pain. Cervical radiculopathy generally affects only one side of your body.

Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy

For some people, cervical radiculopathy symptoms dissipate over time and do not require treatment. If treatment is needed, your specialist will begin with non-surgical treatment options.

Non-surgical treatments for cervical radiculopathy usually involve the following:

  • Immobilization
  • Medications—including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, or steroid injections
  • Physical therapy

Your specialist may even recommend a combination of these non-surgical treatment options to relieve your nerve compression pain. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the affected pinched nerves along your spinal canal.

Pinched nerves can cause severe pain. If you are experiencing this kind of discomfort, schedule an appointment at Virgin Islands Neurology today. We are located in the U.S. Virgin Islands and look forward to helping you!