A pinched nerve is more than just a nuisance. It can be painful and cause tingling, numbness, and weakness. The symptoms can have a significant impact on the daily life of patients.
How does a pinched nerve occur? It is when the surrounding tissue and muscle push on the nerve disrupting its functioning. Spinal nerves are often involved but can also occur in the peripheral nerves of the limbs.
Leading causes of pinched nerves include arthritis and trauma. It can also be caused by a herniated disk putting pressure on the nerve. Sometimes, pinched nerves recover on their own using conservative treatment methods. Most often, they do not cause permanent damage.
This article will cover warning signs of a pinched nerve and treatment options available so you can get the spinal care you need.
Warning Signs of a Pinched Nerve
There are five distinct warning signs of a pinched nerve. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, it is essential to follow up with a spinal care specialist for a proper diagnosis.
- A sharp, burning or aching pain that radiates outward’.
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the area of the body the nerve supplies.
- Tingling or a feeling of “Pins and Needles.”
- Muscle weakness in the area of the body affected by the pinched nerve.
- A feeling like your foot or hand has “fallen asleep.”
Some people have very mild symptoms, while the condition severely impacts others. Usually, the pinched nerve only affects one side of the body. Sometimes patients have more than one pinched nerve, which can cause symptoms in different areas of the body.
Most often, symptoms come on gradually, and they fluctuate depending upon the severity of your conditions. You may notice that certain positions or activities aggravate the nerve.
Can a Pinched Nerve Impair Physical Functioning?
In certain areas of the body, especially the lower spine, can impact physical functioning. Some of these impairments can include:
- Loss of bladder control
- Loss of bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
If you are experiencing any impairment of physical functioning, it is essential to see a spinal specialist discuss options for treatment.
What Causes a Pinched Nerve
As previously mentioned, a pinched nerve can be caused by an accident, herniated disc, or arthritis. Other causes include repetitive work, hobbies or sports activities, and obesity.
If the nerve is pinched for a short time, there is usually little concern for any permanent damage. Often the pressure off the nerve relieves itself. But if the pressure continues or is accompanied by chronic pain, surgery may be an option to consider.
Are There Risk Factors for a Pinched Nerve
Some factors put one at risk for a pinched nerve. These can include:
- Women are more likely to develop some conditions such as carpal tunnel, which is a pinched nerve in the area of the wrist.
- Bone spurs are caused by trauma or conditions such as osteoarthritis. They can cause the spine to stiffen and narrow the area where nerves travel, increasing the likelihood of a pinched nerve.
- Arthritic conditions can cause compression of nerves around the joints.
- Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of pinched nerves.
- Obesity is a risk because excess weight places pressure on the nerves.
- Prolonged bed rest as long periods of lying down increase nerve compression.
- Overuse from jobs or hobbies that require repetitive movement can increase the chances of a pinched nerve.
- The water and weight gain from pregnancy can cause swelling in the nerve pathways, compressing the nerves.
Can You Prevent a Pinched Nerve
Avoid lying or sitting for too long. You can help to prevent a pinched nerve by maintaining good positioning. Take frequent breaks if you work at a desk or in a job where you have to sit for extended periods.
Exercise regularly and incorporate both strength and flexibility exercises into your exercise program. It will also help you in maintaining a healthy weight.
What are the Treatment Options for a Pinched Nerve
Non-steroid-antiinflammatories such as Motrin and ibuprofen can be effective for pain and swelling of the area around the nerve. Sometimes steroids, either orally or by injection, can help with symptoms.
Teaches safe and practical exercises in preventing repetitive motion injuries. Cervical traction may also be used, guided by your therapist, as it can help open the space where the pinched nerve exits the spinal cord.
Acupuncture and massage therapy can also be helpful alternative treatments for pain control from pinched nerves.
TENS units are a form of electrostimulation that helps to reduce pain in affected areas. They are often used in conjunction with other forms of alternative, non-surgical options.
May be an option if non-surgical options have failed. Surgery can be used to remove scar tissue contributing to nerve compression. Surgeons can also treat what may be contributing to the pinched nerve, such as a herniated disc.
Is it Time for You to Visit a Spinal Care Specialist to Discuss a Pinched Nerve?
Living without pain, numbness, and tingling is obtainable. Our spine specialists offer personalized diagnostic and innovative treatment options for patients who have a spectrum of spinal conditions.
Our mission is to help you manage your pain and get back to your physical activities as quickly as possible.
Contact us today to discuss with you how we can help you get back to what you enjoy in life!