Like garden hoses transporting water, your nerves transport important electrical messages throughout the body. Sometimes, though, something gets in the way of the flow.
Healthy Nerves vs. Pinched Nerves
At each disc level in your spine, two nerve roots branch off from the spinal cord and travel into the rest of your body. These nerves send important messages from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body – messages that help you move and feel without any problems.
However, if something begins to put too much pressure on a nerve in the spine, you may get what’s called a “pinched” nerve. A pinched nerve may cause dysfunction with signals going in either direction.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
-sharp, aching, or burning pain radiating from the neck all the way down the arm or from the back all the way down one leg
-stiffness in the neck
-muscle weakness or numbness in an arm or leg hand or foot
-hand or foot “falling asleep”
-muscle spasms in the back
What’s Getting On Your Nerves
A nerve can be pinched by a ligament or tendon, or pinched in between a bone and a ligament or tendon. Other times, a condition can create rough spots in the bone through which the nerve passes. Conditions commonly associated with pinched nerves include:
– an injury, particularly those involving repetitive motion
-a herniated disc
-bone spurs (outgrowth of bone in the spine)
With a pinched nerve, the earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment, the faster your recovery. Neglecting it for too long can lead to fluid buildup and scarring. Most pinched nerves will resolve within 3 to 6 weeks with rest, posture modification, and anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, a patient may benefit from physical therapy or steroid injections. In rare situations, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure put on a nerve.
Expert Advice: Your Symptoms
“If your pain, numbness, and tingling are persistent, see a physician. There is no reason to live with discomfort, and these symptoms are almost always reversible through con-
servative and non-operative treatments including medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If you have profound weakness, paralysis, coordination problems, or bowel and/or bladder trouble, seek immediate medical attention. These are signs of a more serious pinched nerve that may require surgical treatment.”