The Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The term pinched nerve, alternately called a “compressed nerve,” describes unusual and disproportionate pressure applied to a nerve.

Simply put, nerves - bundles of fibers that transmit information - travel through the body inside the spine, and close to joints; always surrounded by other tissues including bone, cartilage, muscles, and tendons. They are, thus, vulnerable to pressure applied by those external elements, which can cause discomfort.

That discomfort may be nothing more than a mild tingling, it can be numbness or weakness, or it can be extreme pain. Despite these wide-ranging symptoms, and the many ways and places this injury can be sustained, the symptoms of a pinched nerve are relatively consistent.

Identifying the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

Nerves are at their most vulnerable to compression where they travel through constricted spaces, and where they have little soft tissue to protect them.

There is no way, beyond considering anecdotal evidence, for the sufferer to determine whether his or her pinched nerve symptoms have resulted from pressure, from repetitive motions or indeed from maintaining a single position for long periods. Nor can the non-professional determine what's causing the compression. Without that information, proper treatment is impossible.

Common types of nerve compression are experienced in the neck and arm, which can cause symptoms in areas as diverse as the elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers. Some perhaps-familiar conditions include:

- Peripheral neuropathy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow

As may be imagined with an injury that presents in so many ways, no two patients experience exactly the same symptoms of a pinched nerve. Commonalities, though, do exist:

- Pain where the compression is actually occurring
- Pain radiating outward from a central point, not resulting from any obvious external injury
- Numbness or tingling, both at the site and radiating
- A burning sensation, or "pins and needles"
- Physical weakness that impacts certain activities, but not others

Types of Treatment to Reduce Pain

Levels of treatment are mandated by levels of discomfort. The range includes:

- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which reduce pain by reducing the swelling that’s pressing on the nerve. Over-the-counter examples include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
- Injections of several types of steroid are used for brief periods, in order to reduce severe pain and severe swelling, once again allowing inflamed nerves to recover.
- Splints and soft collars limit motion, thus reducing the incidence of sharp, stabbing pain caused by unwise movement. They also allow muscles to rest and the nerves to recover.

Types of Treatment to Correct a Pinched Nerve

Simply resting can be enough to allow a slightly pinched nerve to recover. In the most severe situations, though, surgery may be required. Only a licensed professional can make informed diagnoses and give advice on what measures may be necessary.

Pain is a warning signal from your body, telling you something’s wrong, as are the tingling and numbness symptoms. Never ignore a warning signal. Pain associated with pinched nerves may not be experienced at the site of the problem. For instance, neck or lower back pain may result from complications where a nerve root exits the spine. The same injury can cause shoulder and arm pain, and even radiate down into the leg and foot.

Chiro-Med Rehab Center is accepting clients of all ages. Our locations in Richmond Hill - call (905) 918-0419 - and Newmarket - call (905) 235-2620 - treat patients all across the Greater Toronto Area. To ask further questions about pinched nerves, or to schedule an appointment, call today or use our Contact Us page. All initial consultations are free of charge.

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