The Nerves are the way the Brain communicates with the rest of the body! Nerves are responsible for sending signals and impulses to other areas of the body. ie. messenger highways! All of the nerves impulses originate in the brain and follow through the spinal cord and out of the spine.
For example, if you think I must jump then your brain signals to those mechanics to happen, muscles firing, blood circulating etc. So its not hard to imagine that when one of these is compressed or “pinched” that the body sends you a signal right away that there is something wrong!
The body has many nerves in every area. Nerves in the spinal cord speak to nerves in your arms and legs, helping to tell these limbs what to do! The foundation of Chiropractic and the discipline itself is based on ensuring that the brain is able to communicate with all the nerves via a corrected and open spinal column, so not surprisingly Chiropractors are experts not only in diagnosing compromised nerves, but also treating them!
What Are Pinched/Compressed Nerves?
A pinched nerve is a condition where too much pressure is placed on a nerve, causing the nerve not to function properly. There are many things that can cause pinched nerves, which we will go over below.
What Are The Causes of Pinched Nerves?
There are many causes of pinched nerves. Any time undue pressure is placed on a nerve within the body, or the nerve covering (called the myelin sheath), the nerve may become unable to conduct nerve impulses as it normally does. So what causes pressure on a nerve? Any of the following:
- Quick sudden movements that cause the body to move in an unnatural way
- Repetitive motions such as typing or mousing
- Injury due to some type of accident or fall
- Blunt force trauma
- Compression – such as when you fall asleep in a strange position, and wake up with pins and needles in your arm or hand
- Inflammation related to conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome etc.
Pinched nerves most commonly occur in parts of the body where the nerves must travel through tiny or narrow spaces. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an excellent example. Take a look at your wrists – compared to other parts of the body, there is a relatively small space through which bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves must travel in order to keep your hands and fingers working properly. Because of this narrow space, the nerves within can become compressed and/or inflamed by repetitive motions such as typing or mousing, leading to pinched nerves.
Another leading cause of pinched nerves, begins with some other type of condition within the body. A herniated disc is a great example of this. If you suffer from a herniated disc, this can cause undue pressure and compression on your spinal nerves.
What Are The Symptoms of Pinched Nerves?
Pinched nerves can occur anywhere in the body where nerves are located. The most common symptoms of pinched nerves include the following:
- Pain including shooting pains up or down a limb, or pain that radiates to another part of the body
- Swelling and inflammation
- Tingling or pins and needles, like having your arm or leg ‘fall asleep’
- Reduced ROM (range of motion)
What Are The Risk Factors for Pinched Nerves?
As noted, any time repetitive motion is involved, you could be at risk of developing pinched nerves. Those who work at a computer are particularly at risk, along with those who do physical labor or sports for a living.
As well, the following factors can play into whether or not you developed pinched nerves:
- Posture issues
- Inflammation due to Osteo or Rheumatoid arthritis
- Gender – women are more likely than men to develop pinched nerves
- Bone spurs and/or osteoarthritis
- Thyroid disease
- Pregnancy – a woman’s body is put under a tremendous amount of pressure during the third trimester of pregnancy – in faced pinched nerves are one of the very common complaints pregnant women report to us here at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage.
How Are Pinched Nerves Diagnosed?
While many health care providers can make a diagnosis of pinched nerves based on the patient’s description of symptoms, along with a physical exam, in more severe cases, other tests may need to be performed to confirm a case of pinched nerves.
These tests may include electromyography (to evaluate electrical activity inside of your muscles); new conduction study (to measure electrical nerve impulses), and MRI (to draw a picture of your nerves).
What Are The Treatment Options for Pinched Nerves
There are several treatment options available to help resolve pinched nerves.
Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we prefer to take a natural drug-free approach to treating pinched nerves. In general, the chiropractic approach to health and wellness, is to treat the whole body, rather than just treating the symptoms.
Our Chiropractors, or Spinal Care Experts, will ensure that there is not a spinal compromise to the nerve first thing. Then we look at rehabilitation or balancing out the muscle component via stretching or strengthening exercises. This is an important part of relieving pinched nerves. Our Chiropractors and Registered Massage Therapists will have you perform a series of stretches during your appointment, and will send you home with a list of the appropriate stretches you can perform at home to enhance the treatment you receive in our clinic.
Rest & Ice
Resting the body is one of the best ways to help treat pinched nerves. Taking the pressure and work off of the part of your body where the pinched nerve occurs will give it a chance to rest and recover, and will help to reduce compression.
Depending on where the pinched nerve is, wearing a brace may help to keep the area immobilized during rest.
Using ice and heat may also help to treat inflammation related to pinched nerves. Alternating hot and cold for twenty minutes at a time several times a day can help relieve pinched nerve symptoms.
In severe or long standing cases often anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help treat the symptoms of pinched nerves by reducing inflammation. As well, other pain medications like acetaminophen, or stronger prescription opioid medications may be helpful. In very severe and rare case, surgery would have to be performed.
Take The Natural Approach!
Pinched or compressed nerves are a very common condition experienced by many people. They can be caused by simple everyday things like the type of work we do for a living, as well as by some type of trauma or injury to a part of our body.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we prefer a natural, safe approach to treating pinched nerves.