What is a Pinched Nerve?
Nerve damage and the nerve pain and symptoms associated can occur when your nerve is pinched or entrapped. Your pinched nerve usually occurs as a result of injury to structures adjacent to the nerve. The best known pinched nerve would be the sciatic nerve.
Pinched Nerve in Lower Back
When your sciatic nerve in the back is pinched by a disc protrusion, arthritic spur or swelling from a ligament injury you are likely to experience referred leg pain. This is commonly known as sciatica.
Any compromise of the nerve space in your spinal column can lead to compression of the nerve endings. Pinching your nerve, regardless of the specific cause will result in a combination of nerve pain, sensory loss, muscle weakness or altered reflexes.
All of your normal nerve function can be affected by a pinched nerve.
Pinched Nerve in Neck
Nerves can be pinched anywhere in your body. The second most common nerves that can be pinched are your neck nerves. Pinching your neck nerve can result in arm pain, weakness and altered reflexes.
A pinched neck nerve's symptoms can appear similar to common arm conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and rotator cuff injury. If you have one of these conditions and it is not responding to treatment, maybe it has been misdiagnosed. Please seek quality professional advice for a thorough assessment.
A pinched nerve in the neck is known medically as a cervical radiculopathy. As you can see, it doesn't have a cool name like "sciatica" so it is less well known. If you are in marketing, maybe you could help out poor old cervical radiculopathy.
Peripheral Pinched Nerves
You can pinch a nerve anywhere in your body. The most likely region for a nerve pinch is where space is limited around the nerve eg tunnels the nerve passes through.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an example of a pinched peripheral nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the front of your wrist.
How is a Pinched Nerve Diagnosed?
Pain is sent from your pinched nerve through the spinal cord nerves to your brain, where the pain is interpreted.
Your physiotherapist or doctor can detect where your nerve is pinched by the symptoms that you describe. They may refer you on to further diagnostic testing such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI or nerve conduction testing to confirm the diagnosis or to view the severity of the nerve pinch.
What are the 5 Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
A significantly pinched nerve will effect your nerve function and can result in:
- nerve pain
- altered sensation: paraesthesia (pins & needles) or anaesthesia (numbness)
- muscle weakness
- diminished reflexes
- loss of bladder or bowel function.
These symptoms may require urgent medical attention. The less time your nerve stays pinched the better your outcome. Please contact your doctor or physiotherapist ASAP!