A pinched nerve is compressed by surrounding tissues such as bones, tendons, or cartilage. It causes pain, numbness, and tingling in many body parts. You no longer have to live with the debilitating pain from pinched nerves. The team at Axon Health Associates offers various treatments to relieve pinched nerve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Nerve impingement indicates that one nerve is directly compressed in the peripheral nerve. Pinched nerves originate in the neck (cervical radiculopathy), lower back (lumbar radiculopathy), upper middle back (thoracic radiculopathy), wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), hand, and elbow. Sometimes, it is caused by a herniated disc that slips out between vertebrae in the spinal cord and presses the spinal nerves that go down the leg.
A pinched nerve can cause minor or severe damage. In most cases, the condition can improve on its own, generally within 4 to 6 weeks. Simple home treatments can improve symptoms. However, if it does not improve within several days, you may require medical assistance.
Pinched Nerve Symptoms
Symptoms gradually develop over days, weeks, or years, depending on the nerve affected. A pinched nerve can feel unusual and cause strange sensations in various body parts, with the pain ever-changing and difficult to place. Symptoms include:
- Pulling sensation
- Hot & cold sensations
- Radiating pain
- Sharp pain
- Tingling sensations or pins and needles feeling (paresthesia)
- A buzzing sensation like an electric shock
- Reduced range of motion in an affected limb
- Pain when you cough or sneeze
- Regularly dropping objects
- Frequent feeling that your foot or hand has “fallen asleep.”
With a pinched nerve, the area of pain does not determine where the pinched nerve is. So, it is best to seek the expertise of a medical professional to precisely determine the location of the pinched nerve.
Pinched Nerve Causes
Various conditions may cause nerve compression, including:
- Injury from accidents, sports, or lifting heavy objects
- Stress from repetitive work
- Hobbies or sports activities
- Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
- Age due to wear and tear on the spine and its discs
- Diabetes due to sugar levels that damage the nerves
- Pregnancy from the extra weight that compresses the nerve
- Herniated disc or bone spurs that compress the nerve
- Poor posture
Typically, there is no permanent damage if the nerve is pinched for a short period. Relieving the pressure returns it to its normal function. However, if left untreated, it can result in permanent nerve damage diminishing the quality of life.
Several risk factors might lead to a pinched nerve, including:
- Obesity: Nerves may be compressed due to excessive weight.
- Diabetes: The condition has a higher risk of nerve compression.
- Thyroid disease: The condition may put you at higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Bone spurs: They can stiffen the spine, pinching nerves.
- Sex: Women have smaller carpal tunnels making them more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men.
- Pregnancy: Nerves can be compressed due to pregnancy-related weight gain.
- Repetitive motions: Sports or work activities that require constant repetitive movements of the same type can damage the spine, leading to nerve compression.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: The condition causes inflammation which can compress your nerves.
- Genetics: Genetic predispositions can cause conditions that increase the risk of the pinched nerve.
- Disc herniation and bulging discs: Spinal abnormalities can pressure the nerves.
- Tumor: Some tumors located in the spine can lead to nerve compression.
- Body posture and position: Frequently crossing your legs while sitting or poor posture can pressure the nerve leading to nerve compression.
When to See the Doctor
You should seek medical attention as soon as the following symptoms occur:
- If your symptoms last for several days with no response to self-care measurements
- Persistent severe pain that is getting worse or has lasted a couple of days
- Profound numbness or sensation loss
- Pain in the left arm (might be a heart attack)
- Sudden onset of acute focal weakness
- Loss of bladder control
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how long you had them and conduct a physical exam. You may undergo additional tests for an accurate diagnosis, such as:
- MRI to identify nerve root compression
- Blood tests to measure thyroid levels or blood glucose
- Ultrasound to diagnose nerve compression syndrome
- X-rays indicate whether there is damage causing a pinched nerve
- A nerve conduction study to measure electrical nerve impulses
- Electromyography(EMG) to evaluate muscle electrical activity of muscles when they contract and when at rest
Pinched Nerve Treatment
Early treatment is essential for a fast recovery. Most symptoms improve if treatable conditions cause them.
- Medication for pain relief
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling
- Rest, sleep enough, and avoid activities that aggravate symptoms
- Splint, collar, or braces to immobilize the area (worn day and night)
- Massage therapy and physical therapy to strengthen and improve muscle flexibility
- Maintain the correct posture
- Corticosteroid injections for pain relief
- Ice and heat therapy to relieve swelling
- Chiropractic care to release the pinched nerve
Surgery is recommended when the condition is not improving after conservative treatments. It is considered the last option. Your doctor will recommend the type of procedure depending on the location of the problematic nerve and the symptoms experienced. Types of surgeries may include and are not limited to:
- Artificial disk replacement (ADR): Replacing the injured disk with an artificial part.
- Anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion(ACDF): Removing the discs or bones compressing the nerve from the spine and stabilizing it through fusion.
If you are suffering from a pinched nerve, contact Axon Health Associates today for a customized treatment plan or schedule an appointment online.