Feeling a pinch in your back? Do you have a pinched nerve, or wonder if you might?
This condition can be incredibly painful; disabling even. So, it’s important to understand what it is, why it happens and how to find relief. Also, what steps may prevent a pinched nerve in the first place.
WHAT IS A PINCHED NERVE?
The term “pinched nerve” suggests a nerve becomes squashed. While this is can be true, a nerve can also be constricted or stretched. Because nerve tissue is soft, it’s vulnerable to injury. Bone, shortened muscles, fascia, ligaments, and the discs between the vertebrae can each push on a nerve. This alters how the nerve functions.
A nerve’s job is to enable communication; to “talk” between one part of the body and another. If pinched, the messages become fuzzy. If a damaged nerve communicates sensation; pins and needles, numbness, sensitive skin, a burning sensation, or pain may be felt. If the information is about motor function; you might experience weakness, cramps, twitching, and impaired reflexes.
BUT WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Imagine a nerve like a pool noodle. It’s flexible and strong. But, if you ran over it in your car, bound it tightly in rope, or stretched it out of place, it would lose its form and function. This is similar to what happens with a nerve − except a nerve is irreplaceable. Some parts of your body are more prone to pinched nerves, such as your spine.
Your spinal column is built from perfectly positioned bones stacked one atop the other. At the back, most snap together like clicklock flooring. In between sit strong, rubbery discs. Your spinal cord travels down your spinal canal from your brain to your lower back. A nerve leaves your spinal column and traverses a hole called the IVF, which lies close to the disc. If a disc herniates − if part of it bursts from its normal limits − then it can push against the nearby nerve causing it to pinch.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Your spine is designed to move and protect your spinal cord and nerves, so maintaining spinal health is important to prevent pinched nerves. Staying flexible and fit and having a strong core helps achieve this goal. Practice correct lifting techniques. In addition, look after yourself. Don’t smoke. Eat well and maintain an ideal body weight; in particular, a healthy waist circumference − big bellies are a risk factor.
If you’re suffering from a pinched nerve, there is hope. We can help to ease your pain if you’re already suffering, and help reduce your risk of a pinched nerve. Optimal care and advice matter, and we look forward to working with you.