When a nerve receives excessive pressure, whether from bones, cartilage, tendons, muscles, or surrounding tissue in general, it can become compressed.
This compression on the nerve causes its functioning to be impaired and the patient feels pain or can even report weakness or frequent numbness in one of the legs, arms, hands or feet.
Symptoms of pinched nerve
The patient usually feels numbness or loss of sensation in the area supplied by the nerve, but is also common:
- Sharp pain or burning that may radiate to surrounding areas
- When the pinched nerve leaves directly from the spine, coughing or sneezing can make the pain worse
- “Needle-like” stings, also called paresthesia
- Muscle weakness or tremors in the affected area
- Frequent “numbness” of a hand or foot
Problems related to the pinched nerve can get worse when you sleep. See a doctor if signs and symptoms of pinched nerve persist for several days and do not improve with simple measures like rest and medicine.
Main causes of pinched nerve
Nerves are groups of millions of fibers that can make us move, such as walking or picking up an object, in addition to feeling many types of sensations, like cold, heat, tingling, shaking and many others.
Basically, all our sensations pass through them. Nerves depart from the brain to other parts of the body and act as a kind of “messengers” of signals from the brain through the musculature.
When a nerve leaves the spine and branches into the arms and legs, it is called a peripheral nerve. Within it, the peripheral nerve carries fluids from the nerve cell body, which help to nourish and replenish the components of the outer part.
A compressed nerve blocks the passage of signals, and also blocks the passage of nutrients through its interior. When this occurs, the membrane begins to lose its ability to transmit small electrical discharges and the nerve fiber may even die.
A significant amount of blocked fibers can lead, for example, to immobility of a muscle or anesthesia of the skin.
How to treat pinched nerve
With rest and a good treatment routine, most people recover from a pinched nerve within days or weeks. The most commonly recommended treatment for a pinched nerve is to rest the injured area.
Your doctor will ask you to stop all physical activities that could cause or worsen the compression. Depending on the location of the pinched nerve, you may need to use a splint or brace to immobilize the area, too. Whether during the day or at bedtime.
Physical therapy is a great complementary treatment that strengthens and stretches injured muscles to relieve pressure on the nerve. To learn more about how physical therapy can help you, contact BCW and start your treatment today!