A pinched nerve is an extremely painful condition. Sometimes referred to as nerve compression, it occurs when there is pressure on a nerve from surrounding bone or soft tissues.
When a nerve is pinched, the initial symptoms usually include localized pain but pain also may be felt far from the point of pressure. Other symptoms of a pinched nerve include a burning sensation, muscle spasms, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and pain that radiates through the neck or lower back. Many sufferers also experience a shooting pain in the arm, shoulder, foot or leg.
The level of pain from a pinched nerve can vary from mild to severe. Even if you are experiencing only mild pain, it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible to avoid permanent nerve damage and prevent other symptoms such as fluid build-up and swelling from developing. At Zurek Chiropractic, we will determine if the pain you are experiencing is the result of a pinched nerve and, if it is, design a pain treatment plan to treat it.
There are several reasons why a pinched nerve can occur but the most common causes include:
- Bone spurs. Small and sharp bone outgrowths that develop along the spine as a result of minor inflammation, bone spurs cause cells to deposit extra bone in the area.
- Herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when some of the soft gel of a spinal disc pushes out through a tear in a disc’s tough exterior.
- Lack of movement. When your body remains in the same position for long periods of time, such as when sleeping or traveling, it can compress a nerve.
- Pregnancy. Increased body weight and water retention put pressure on the nerves.
- Repetitive motion. Activities such as typing on a computer keyboard or repeated heavy use of the back because of a labor-intensive job or sports.
- Spinal arthritis. The wearing down of cartilage due to things like age or trauma. The associated inflammation places pressure on nearby nerves.
- Trauma. A car accident or other unexpected injury.
Chiropractic treatment of a pinched nerve usually includes a spinal adjustment to ensure that your vertebrae and discs are properly aligned. Many patients report immediate relief from this treatment. Soft tissue therapy or traction also may be used and will require additional sessions.
In many cases, treatment will resolve the issue and nerve will recover. More severe cases may cause permanent nerve damage and a patient may suffer permanent numbness or pain. A majority of cases will fall somewhere in between these two scenarios and the nerve will regenerate over a long period of time.
As is the case with most everything, prevention is always the best course of action. Pay attention to how your body is working and make sure to maintain good posture and limit-or take breaks-from repetitive actions. By doing so you can reduce or eliminate the likelihood of developing a pinched nerve in the first place.