What are Pinched Nerves?
Pinch nerve is a horrible feeling and one that most of us have felt at one point in our lives. If you have a pinched nerve and you want to be properly assessed, diagnosed and treated then book in an appointment at The Innate Connection with one of our Chiropractors.
A pinch nerve can feel like electricity, numbness, weakness or tingling. This occurs when there is too much pressure around a nerve, this can be from inflammation, bone, cartlidge, ligaments or muscular tension. The most common areas for people to experience pinch nerves are in the bottom part of their neck and in the lower part of their back. These pinched nerves can also refer pain into your arm, ribs or down your leg.
The good news is that most people recover from a pinched nerve within six weeks, and only very rarely is it that someone will need surgery.
If you have a numbness, sharp, aching or burning pain, tingling, pins and needles, muscle weakness or a constant feeling that your hand or foot has gone to sleep then you may have a pinched nerve. People often find that their pain is worse when they’re trying to get to sleep and it is very difficult to find a comfortable position.
Causes of pinched nerves- pinched nerves generally arrise because there is a compressive force around the nerve in your neck or lower back. As we discussed earlier this can be bone, disc, tendons or even muscle that can cause the symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of a pinched nerve where there is swelling in part of your wrist that is irritating the nerve it goes in into your hand. Most people who have a pinched nerve have had some kind of injury like a fall from the bike, a car accident or a whiplash injury. People with rheumatoid arthritis or other kinds of arthritis, repetitive work stresses, people who are overweight or engage in sporting activities are also more likely to suffer from pressure around a nerve that causes a pinched nerve.
It is recommended that people work on and maintain a good posture and do not sit or stand in one position for a long period of time. It is a good idea to use mobility and strengthening exercise programs, reduce weight if you are overweight and take frequent breaks from working in static positions or engaging in repetitive tasks. People are less likely to get a pinched nerve if they exercise regularly and keep their muscles healthy and strong. If you cross your legs for too long or sit in one position there is also an increase chance that you will develop a compression of a nerve. Compression of a nerve can be due to stretching as well as the muscles and ligaments around the nerve can become irritated and produce inflammatory substances that nerve to become compressed.
What does a pinched nerve feel like?– a pinch nerve in your neck may make your neck stiff and even refer pain into your shoulder or arm. Sometimes there is no pain but you will feel numbness or a constant pins and needles feeling. When you have a pinched nerve in your lower back this can cause pain or numbness into your glutes, and legs. If you have a pinched nerve in your middle back this can cause you to have chest pain. Any kind of irregular chest pain can be severe and so it is a good idea to get checked by a healthcare professional if you have pain in this region. Another example of a pinched nerve is your funny bone in your elbow.
Every time you hit your funny bone you are hitting a nerve and that is why it hurts so much. For most people that have a pinched nerve it means that it is like their funny bone is constantly being pushed on and depending on where the nerve supplies this is where you have symptoms.
When to get help? -pinched nerves can become serious and lead to nerve damage. They can also lead to chronic pain where even after the pinch nerve has gone you can still feel pain because your brain has learnt this pain behaviour. If your symptoms are getting worse or not improving within 3 to 7 days you need to seek assistance from a qualified healthcare professional.
Diagnosis and how to know if you’ve got a pinched nerve – your healthcare provider (such as your Innate Connection Croydon Chiropractor), will examine the area where you are claiming to have a pinched nerve. Doing compression and decompression movements as well as moving your head in particular ways can tell our Chiropractors what is happening in your neck and whether we need to refer you for an x-ray, CT or MRI scan. MRI scans are the best way to show a pinched nerve or nerve compression.
They can also show if there is damage to other areas around the nerve, or if there is bone growing and touching the nerve. An X-ray and a CT show bone, but cannot show you the nerve or if the nerve is being compressed. A CT or an x-ray can only make guesses to whether you’re nervous being compressed.
What to do when you have a pinched nerve? – resting and avoiding positions that created the problem in the first place is the number one thing to do when you want to reduce pain associated with a pinched nerve. Paracetamol can be used to give temporary relief but they will not control swelling in the area, it is just used for comfort. Many people will use anti-inflammatory medication as long as it is safe to do so. Some Chiropractors advise using braces around the area of the pinch nerve to hold it in position and limit the motion as your body heals itself.
If your pain is severe, you can have strong medications and pain relief through oral ingestion or injection into the area to reduce information, as long as you speak to your doctor first. Chiropractic care and other physical forms of pain relief are useful, as well as stretches and light exercises as long as you are doing them in the right way so that you do not irritate the nerve further.