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What is a pinched nerve?

 

Do you think that you may have a pinched nerve?

Do you have numbness in the shoulder or perhaps pain or tingling down the leg? Some of you, I’m sure, will immediately know what I mean.  There is a time in all our lives when we will wonder whether or not some new pain or maybe a tingling sensation is being caused by a pinched nerve.  This for many can be very worrying and I’d like to throw some light on the subject.

 

 

So what causes a pinched or trapped nerve?

Pinched nerves are usually diagnosed after the onset of neck and/or shoulder pain, or perhaps low back pain that seems to be spreading.  But this vague diagnosis, accompanied by a hurried drug prescription, fails to illuminate what is actually pinching the nerve, and it completely fails to identify the cause.

 

Most common types of nerve pressure

As the soft delicate nerve fibers branch off the spinal cord as nerve roots, they must negotiate several passageways to reach their destination.  As the nerve first leaves the spinal cord, it has to pass through a tiny hole between any two vertebrae and the cartilage disc that separates them.  If the vertebrae themselves are displaced or shifted by even a tiny amount, or the disc is bulging into the gap, then there can be pressure exerted on the nerve and it will begin to suffer and become irritated and/or blocked.  This is the most common type of nerve pressure you will experience and it is a mechanical problem involving the spine. It occurs most commonly in the lower neck which affects the shoulders and arms and in the lower back, which affects the hips, buttocks and down the legs.


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First symptoms of a pinched nerve

Now, what is important to understand is that the initial impingement cannot usually be felt because only a small fraction of the nerve carries pain messages.  However, when this squeezing irritation persists then gradually a symptom emerges.  Depending on which fibers within the nerves are being compressed, symptoms may include: sharp, darting pain originating in the neck or low back that radiates down the course of the nerve into the shoulder and possibly down the arm, or into the buttock and down the leg.  Other symptoms can be dull aches right at the source, or even tight and sore muscles.

 

Symptoms tell you that there is a problem

These symptoms are there to let you know there is a problem.  The real health issue is not the pain, but rather the damage that the body incurs as the nerve messages are choked off from their intended destinations.  Remember, there isn’t a nerve root exiting the spine that doesn’t feed some vital organ.  Subsequently, over time, organs in your body can begin to lose their proper function whilst the accompanying pain can become very uncomfortable.

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Video showing clearly the anatomy and physiology of “Pinched Nerves”.

 

 

 

Medication is not the answer

Quite obviously, if a nerve is being trapped, pinched, or impinged, the only sensible course of action is to find out what is causing the pinching?  I am appalled at the number of patients I meet who have been given painkillers or anti-inflammatories as a treatment for these types of health issues. Wouldn’t that mask the problem and allow greater damage?  Would you place tape over a blinking engine light?  Then why would you accept that solution for your own body?

If you have been told, or you suspect, that you have a pinched or trapped nerve then the sensible thing is to get that hard bone off the soft nerve as quickly as possible.  We would encourage you to call us as quickly as possible to avoid worse and possibly irreparable damage.

Telephone:  + 65 6224 6326 for an appointment.

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