What is a pinched nerve? A pinched nerve is related to too much pressure or compression of a nerve by its surrounding tissues. This pinching of nerve can be caused by bones, cartilage or muscles surrounding the nerve. Visit https://nydnrehab.com/blog/pinched-nerve-treatment-2/ for more know how.
When a nerve is pinched, one can feel
- Sharp and radiating pain, which may initially come and go and later become persistent
- numbness in the area of pinch,
- tingling and pinching sensation,
- muscle weakness
If the nerve compression lasts for a longer time, it may result in swelling, scarring and extra pressure at that area.
Common areas where pinching of nerve happens are wrist, nerve at elbows, nerve in the upper thighs, nerves at knees, sciatic nerve where pain travels from back to the leg, nerve in the neck causing pain in the neck and shoulders
Causes of Pinched nerve:
Below are few causes of nerve pinch:
- An injury
- Stress from repetitive physical activity
- Bone spurs
- Sex – seen in women with smaller carpel tunnels
- Prolonged bed rest
If the pinched nerve lasts for a shorter time, it would generally does not need any medical help. For a prolonged discomfort, you need to contact your doctor. He would start with a physical examination. If required, he may ask for some tests to be done which are:
- High resolution ultrasound: Helpful in diagnosing nerve compression to check if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Nerve Conduction study: A small amount of current is passed through the nerve to check if your nerve is damaged.
- Electromyography: It uses a needle electrode which has electricity to check if the damage to the nerve is passed to the muscle as well.
- MRI and CT scan: They are used to check if the nerve compression is at the root of the nerve. They are used to check pinched nerve in the spine or back.
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- The first step to treatment of pinched nerve is to take rest and stop any activity that causes more pain.
- A splint may be suggested for areas like wrist to rest the area for a brief period to immobilize the area.
- You may be referred to a physical therapist for exercises to stretch the muscle and relive the pressure.
- Simple pain killers like ibuprofen can be prescribed to relieve the pain.
- In some cases, corticosteroid injections may also be prescribed to relive the pain.
- Surgery will be the final option if the pain does not relieve after several weeks.
- Weight loss can also affect and relive the pain.
Preventing pinched nerve is easy by keeping a track of your habits. Sit up right, do not pressure or lean on your elbows, avoid crossing your legs, reduce the repetitive activities to avoid pressure on the same area, take breaks and rest between your activities.
In case you have mild pinched nerve, you can apply hot or cold packs at home. Hot packs help in passing more oxygen and thus relax the pain. On the other hand, cold packs cause numbness resulting in relief from the pain for a while.