Pinched nerves (also known as compressed nerves) can occur anywhere in the body. They occur most frequently when vertebrae or discs impact nerves in the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper back) or lumbar spine (lower back). Pinched nerves also commonly occur in other highly articulated parts of the body, such as the hands, elbows and wrists.
It is difficult to discern the exact location of a pinched nerve by sensation alone. This is because the area which pain seemingly radiates from is typically not the location of the pinched nerve itself. For example, a pinched nerve in the elbow often manifests itself as hand pain. Likewise, when the sciatic nerve is pinched by a herniated disc, the resultant pain often occurs in the leg.
What Are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
Nerves control your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, stress response, and various other body functions. Fortunately, a pinched nerve does not impair these vital functions – although it can lead to permanent nerve damage if it is not treated in a timely manner. If you notice one or more of the six symptoms of a pinched nerve, it is best to consult your primary care doctor or chiropractor at once.
- Pain. Pain is often the only symptom of a pinched nerve. It may be localized within the area impacted by nerve compression, or radiate outward as with sciatica. Pain caused by a pinched nerve may decrease or intensify depending on which position you assume.
- Numbness. A pinched nerve may lose some or all of its ability to transmit electrical impulses to the brain. When your brain no longer receives those impulses, you may no longer feel the area of your body that is affected by nerve compression.
- Paresthesia. More commonly known as “pins and needles,” paresthesia occurs when the brain only receives partial messaging. Paresthesia frequently accompanies carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that is caused by pressure against the median nerve.
- Burning sensation. A distinctive burning sensation may result from a pinched nerve, especially the sciatic nerve. The sensation of burning is also associated with central pain syndrome, cervical spondylosis, multiple sclerosis, whiplash, and several other conditions which affect nerves, which is why formal diagnosis by a medical professional is strongly recommended.
- Weakness. Compression diminishes a nerve’s ability to send signals to the brain. The muscles connected to that nerve may feel weak as the result, which can impair certain movements including walking. Even grip strength and fine motor skills may weaken if the brain is unable to effectively communicate with the hand muscles.
- Incontinence. Nerves aren’t just responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and muscles. When a nerve compresses in your lumbar spine, your brain’s ability to control functioning of your bladder and bowels may become impaired as well.
Can Chiropractic Help a Pinched Nerve?
Nerve compression affects about 85 out of 100,000 adults in the United States. Many of them report significant if not total relief after receiving chiropractic care. Why is this?
Chiropractic can address a broad range of physical conditions, although the field of medicine is particularly well-suited for treating nerve compression. One of a chiropractor’s specialties is noninvasively realigning their patient’s discs and vertebrae by applying selective pressure and tension to the spinal column. By restoring the spine to its optimal position, the chiropractor can eliminate the source of compression which impacts nerve functionality – and just as effectively put an end to discomfort without the need for drugs.
More than just adjustments
A chiropractor’s techniques aren’t limited to adjustments. They may advise certain exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine so as to help prevent the recurrence of nerve compression. They may help their patient to improve their posture for the same reason. Perhaps most importantly, a chiropractor can help to determine whether a more serious medical condition is causing the same symptoms commonly associated with nerve compression.
If you believe you are suffering from a pinched nerve and want fast relief, then we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Fargo Spine’s chiropractic clinic in Fargo, ND today!