A pinched nerve disrupts the normal function of your nerves. Apart from disrupting the messages that go to and from your brain, it causes pain which depends on the severity of your case. Early detection and appropriate treatment are essential to correct this condition.
What Nerves Do
Nerves, also known as neurons, are specialized cells with a singular function. This is to carry messages from one body part to another as electric signals called nerve impulses. There are three different types of nerves.
- Motor neurons. As the name implies, these neurons cause the body to move. What happens is nerve impulses go from the brain to the so-called effectors, essentially body parts that cause movement such as glands and muscles. The motor neurons serve as the bridge between the brain and these effectors.
- Sensory neurons. As the name also implies, these neurons allow people to react to stimuli like sound, touch, and movement. They serve as the bridge between the brain and spinal cord to sensory receptors such as the skin, eyes, and ears.
- Relay neurons. These neurons basically relay nerve impulses from one part of the body to another hence the name.
Pinched nerves should be understood literally. There is a pinch or compression in a certain part of the nerves that are usually found in between bones, ligaments, or tendons. There could be different causes of this compression. It could be because of doing the same action over and over again. It could also be because a certain body position is held for a long period of time without moving. Other causes could include injury, strenuous activities, rheumatoid, even obesity. Whatever the cause is, pinched nerves can cause a lot of pain and can lead to various complications.
Pinched Nerves Complications
Here are some complications if pinched nerves are not properly dealt with:
- Peripheral neuropathy. This is a serious complication where there is a disruption in the communication between the brain and the body parts. This could lead to impaired movement, non-recognition of certain stimuli, and pain.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. When there is too much pressure on the wrist, this condition can take place. This causes general pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand.
- Extra pressure
As mentioned earlier, it would be beneficial for if the condition is recognized immediately.This way, no further complications will develop. Here are some of the most common symptoms of pinched nerves:
- Frequent complaints about hands and feet “falling asleep”
- Decreased sensation
- Tingling pain much like pins and needles
- Sharp pain
- Muscle weakness
- A persistent ache accompanied by a burning sensation
Here are some situation which can increase your susceptibility of having pinched nerves:
- Diabetes. Nerve compression is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Nerve compression is another term for pinched nerves.
- Obesity. The extra weight also causes pressure on the nerves which can then lead to compression.
- Pregnancy. Much like obesity, the added weight and water adds more pressure on the nerves.
- Sedentary lifestyle. If you keep on sitting down or lying down on the same position, nerve compression can be triggered.
- Prolonged bed rest. This is the reason why patients who are at bed rest should be moved from time to time.
- Thyroid disease. There is a link between people with thyroid disease and contracting carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Gender. Women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome because the size of their carpal tunnels are smaller compared to their male counterparts.
- Bone spurs. Thickening of bones can also cause pinched nerves. This can be a result of osteoarthritis or trauma.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid-induced inflammation can compress the nerves as well.
- Strenuous activities. If you are athletic or if your job requires you to do a single thing over and over again, chances are, the nerves that you overuse will develop a compression over time.
Pinched nerves is a condition that a person might experience at least once in his/her life. Here are some way to prevent it from happening again:
- Have a healthy diet and do regular exercise so you can keep unwanted weight at bay.
- Do stretching and include strength and flexibility in your daily exercise regimen.
- Make sure you do not stay in the same position for a prolonged time.
- Have regular breaks if you do the same task repetitively.
While symptoms of pinched nerves peter out eventually, there are some severe cases which may prompt you to consult a physician. These are some situation where medical attention is imperative:
- Prolonged experience of symptoms
- Persistent pain despite taking pain relievers
- Non-response to measures that usually cause pinched nerves relief
Pinched nerves, on the surface, may not be too serious but if there is no change in the way people do things, this condition could lead to severe complications. Keep this information in mind so you can employ self-care measures right away when symptoms manifest. If they persist, then it is time to seek professional help.