What is a Pinched Nerve?
Pinched nerve pain can occur when there has been an injury to one or more nerves or they have been damaged in some way. Pinched nerves can be the result of constriction, compression, or stretching of the nerve. It may be easier for me to explain what it means to have a pinched nerve if I first help you understand what nerves are and what they do. Nerves come out of the spinal cord and extend into the arms and legs in order to reach the muscles and skin.
Nerve cells have fibers that run several feet towards their end points. Nerves that "live" in the brain or spinal cord are central nerves and those that leave the spine to the arms and legs are peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are made up of bundles of millions of tiny nerve fibers that are responsible for making the muscles move and for providing feeling.
When a nerve is constricted or "pinched", nutrients cannot flow and eventually the membrane inside the nerve will not be able to send its electrical charges. The result can be numbness, tingling and pinched nerve pain.Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
There are several symptoms of pinched nerves and some people may experience all of them, while others have only one or two symptoms. The symptoms will occur in the area that is supplied by the particular nerve that is compressed. The symptoms include:
- Numbness or a lessening of sensation
- Tingling sensations like a pins and needles feeling
- Sharp or burning pain that may spread out from the compression point. Coughing or sneezing can make the pain worse if the pinched nerve is coming from the spinal cord.
- Weak or twitching muscles
- The sensation that a foot or hand has fallen asleep.
If the pinched nerve is in the lower back, the pain tends to radiate through the leg, sometimes as far as the foot. A pinched nerve in the neck may travel into an arm. This is known as "referred pain."Causes of a Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve can occur if too much pressure, or compression, is put on a nerve by the tissues surrounding it. The tissue can be bone or cartilage. This commonly occurs in the back and an example is a herniated disc that compresses the root of a nerve. The nerve involved in this case is the sciatic nerve and the condition is known as sciatica. There are several different problems that can cause sciatica. A herniated disc can also cause a pinched nerve in the neck. No matter what is causing bone or cartilage to pinch a nerve, it is important to seek pinched nerve treatment if the problem does not go away on its own in a few weeks.
In other cases of a pinched nerve, it may be muscles or tendons that put pressure on a nerve. With carpal tunnel syndrome it can be one of a variety of tissues applying the pressure to the median nerve. There are a lot of other conditions that can cause tissues to pinch a nerve:
- Improper posture
- Repetitive motion
- Sports Injuries
No matter what the cause is, I will find the proper pinched nerve treatment to ease the pain and discomfort.