Pain can result from a condition called a pinched nerve, a layman’s term for nerve compression. If you experience pain, don’t just ignore this symptom. Oftentimes, pain is a warning signal that there is something wrong. When you have a pinched nerve, signals are sent to the brain through your spinal cord which interprets it as pain. The earlier you report your symptoms, the better the prognosis will be and the best chance for relief.
If ever you are wondering if your pain and other discomforts are associated with a pinched nerve, let this be your guide. Here, we’ll talk about what a pinched nerve is as well as its risk factors, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What Is A Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve is a term used for the discomfort, pain, and numbness that result from pressure on a nerve. This pressure leads to irritation and damage. Most often, this is associated with the nerve roots that come from the spine and is usually diagnosed as radiculopathy (cervical radiculopathy or sciatica), but any nerve in your body can be affected by this condition. In the majority of cases due to herniated or bulging discs the pain in the arm or leg is due to irritation of the nerve root by the chemicals that are released as a result of the inflammation in the damaged disc.
What Are The Risk Factors?
Almost anything that causes an increased pressure to your nerves may cause a pinched nerve. Some of the common causes or risk factors are:
- Disc herniation
- Bulging or herniated disc
- Muscle spasm
- Spinal arthritis
- Water retention especially those associated with thyroid conditions
- Repetitive activities (typing, texting, massaging, etc.)
- Poor postures or body positioning
What Are The Causes Of A Pinched Nerve?
Pressure on a nerve root or peripheral nerve can result in irritation and denervation (loss of nerve supply) to the muscles supplied by the nerve. When this happens, the nerve cannot function properly which can lead to pain, numbness, tingling and if not addressed weakness and atrophy of the muscles supplied by the nerve or nerve root.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Pinched Nerve?
A person with a pinched nerve may experience one or more of the following around the affected area:
- Radiating pain (pain that travels from one area to another)
- Burning sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle atrophy or wasting
How Is A Pinched Nerve Diagnosed?
A qualified health care professional can make a diagnosis of a pinched nerve after performing the following:
- Careful physical examination
- Electromyography (EMG)
- CT Scan
What Is The Treatment For A Pinched Nerve?
Treatment of a pinched nerve varies depending on the location and cause. Elimination of the cause will usually result in relief of the signs and symptoms as long as it is addressed in a timely manner. Elimination of the cause is often challenging and often requires multiple treatment modalities. These include:
- Resting the affected area will often prevent further irritation of the nerve but will not address the cause.
- Physical therapy. Conservative care such as physical therapy is usually an effective treatment and should be tried before more invasive treatments.
- Spinal Manipulation. This is one of the most effective treatments, but should be used in a very judicious manner and by someone who has extensive experience utilizing this modality.
- VAX-D (Vetebral Axial Decompression). If the pain is a result of a herniated, bulging or degenerative disc this treatment will help heal the damaged discs often resulting in a complete resolution of symptoms. (see video below for example of VAX-D treatment)
- MedX Lumbar and Cervical Extension Machines. These tools can isolate the affected muscles of the spine, help determine the source of pain or weakness, and then we can customize the exercise, range of motion and resistance that will strengthen this weakness. (see video below for example of Med-X treatment)
- Pain Management. Specific injections including epidurals or trigger point injections are effective in reducing the pain and inflammation and facilitating more functional treatments such as those described above.
- Usually surgery should be a last resort, however if the problem is due to bony compression from spinal degenerative changes or stenosis; or you are noting progressive weakness and/or atrophy in the affected muscles or a foot drop, a surgeon should be consulted.
Because treatment of a pinched nerve usually requires multiple treatment modalities it is best to choose a treatment facility that offers multiple treatments such as the Center for Total Back Care. If you are tired of struggling with the pain associated with a pinched nerve and cannot find relief, don’t give up. At the Center for Total Back Care, we can provide you with a safe and effective treatment and rehabilitation program to help eliminate your pain. Simply book a free consultation with us so we can identify the most effective treatment for you. Call us at 480-633-8293 now!