What is Pinched Nerve?
People of any age can experience pinched nerves. The term ‘pinched nerve’ refers to a type of injury or damage to a single nerve or a set of nerves. When adjacent tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons press on the nerve roots, a ‘pinched nerve’ occurs. This compression upsets the nerve’s functions, causing radiating pain, muscle weakness or numbness in the area supplied by the nerve, tingling sensations or recurrent feeling that a foot or hand has ‘fallen asleep.’
The range of such injuries may vary from minor, temporary damage to a more permanent condition. Nerve pinching for a short period won’t likely cause permanent damage. Once pressure is relieved, nerve function can typically return to normal. However, if pain or pressure becomes chronic, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. Thus, early diagnosis is critical to prevent further damage or complications.
Signs and Symptoms of Pinched Nerve
Tingling sensation, accompanied by numbness is the most common symptom of pinched nerves that may initially come and go but become persistent over time. Other symptoms of pinched nerve include:
- Paresthesia or pins-and-needles feeling
- Tingling or pinprick-like sensations along the pathway of a nerve is usually a sign of nerve compression that radiates downward.
- Sharp, Radiating or Burning Pain
- Pain from a pinched nerve typically radiates along some or all of the pathway where the nerve supplies sensations or movement.
- A pinched nerve in the cervical spine may cause neck pain and radiating pain down the neck, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. A pinched nerve in the lumbar spine may cause back pain and radiate down the hip, buttock, leg and foot numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.
- A loss of sensation in the affected area of the body. A pinched nerve in the neck can affect your shoulder, arm, hand or fingers. A pinched nerve in the back can cause numbness in the buttock, leg or foot.
- Muscle Weakness. In severe cases, muscle weakness and loss of motor function occur in the affected area.
- Depending on where the nerve impingement is, it may affect your walking or holding objects. A sensation that your hand or foot has fallen asleep.
- An unnatural body position such as sitting or lying on a hand or foot for too long causes a falling asleep sensation, which is normal and can be relieved when you walk or move around. However, if this is becoming frequent, or occurs for no apparent reason, it may be a sign of a pinched nerve.
What Causes Pinched Nerve?
A number of conditions may cause tissue to compress a single nerve or a bunch of nerves.
If the disc material leaks, it can put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This causes numbness or severe pain in the path of the nerve being pinched.
RA is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation particularly in the joints. It can also affect the nerves and trigger numbness and tingling sensations.
Certain jobs or hobbies that require repetitive movements of the hand, wrist of shoulder, increase the likelihood of a pinched nerve. Also, staying in one position for long periods such as bending elbows while sleeping can also put pressure on the nerves. Prolonged bed rest can likewise intensify the risk of nerve compression.
Excess weight causes pressure on nerves that pass through the central canal. When you are overweight or obese, it strains the various parts of your spine, causing discomfort or debilitating pain.
Bone Spurs From Osteoarthritis
Bone spurs are bony projections that develop along the bony edges that often form in the joints and on the bones of the spine, mainly caused by joint damage associated with osteoarthritis. Bone spurs narrow the space where the nerves travel, causing nerve pinching, paresthesia (tingling) and pain.
How Pinched Nerve is Diagnosed?
To identify the root of the pinched nerve, you need to undergo a physical examination of your neck, arms, shoulder, wrist and hands. This enables your healthcare providers to look for muscle weakness, change in reflexes and ask about the different sensations you’re feeling and your pain levels. Normally, one or more imaging tests or procedures are used to track down the source of the problem, such as:
This aids in the diagnosis of a pinched nerve in the affected area. An x-ray can reveal narrowing and misalignment of the spinal cord and fractures.
Computed Tomography (CT) scan:
A CT provides a better view of the spine and bone than an X-ray because of its 3D feature.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):
MRI has the ability to scan the vertebrae, soft tissues and nerves in greater detail than with other imaging tests. This can also show the severity of the nerve compression or the location of the damage.
An EMG measures electrical impulses of the muscles and helps determine nerve functioning. This allows your doctor to identify the cause of the nerve damage – such as pressure on the spinal nerve root or another medical condition such as diabetes.
How is Pinched Nerve Treated?
Treatment of pinched nerves may vary from person to person, depending on the severity and cause of the nerve compression. If the signs and symptoms persist for several days and do not subside despite self-care measures such as rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, it is necessary to see a doctor.
Conservative treatment of pinched nerves is often very successful. Chiropractic care can involve removing the bone or soft tissue pressure that is be applied to the nerve. This can reduce swelling and pain in the nerve and resolve the condition.
Rest is essential for healing a nerve. Extra sleep gives the body more time to repair itself, allowing the pinched nerve to heal on its own. Limiting repetitive activities that will aggravate the symptoms and taking frequent breaks can also speed up the healing and recovery of the nerve compression.
In severe cases (which is more unlikely), surgery is recommended to shrink swollen tissue around the nerve. It may be necessary to get rid of the material that’s compressing the nerve such as:
- Disc Material
- Scar Tissue
- Pieces of Bone
Conclusion on Pinched Nerve
If nerve compression continues for a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve may break down. With conservative treatment, most people easily recover from pinched nerves. In some cases, though – usually due to damage that’s been done over an extended period of time – these complications may become more complicated and you’ll need to work with your doctor on the best approach for treating pinched nerves. Contact N8 Family Chiropractic for treatment of a pinched nerve.
Schedule an Appointment for Pinched Nerve Treatment at N8 Family Chiropractic