Pinched Nerve Information

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    Pinched Nerve Overview

    The term pinched nerve in your back refers to a form of damage or injury done to a nerve or multiple nerves.  A nerve pinch can be a result of injury due to compression, stretching, or constriction.  If left untreated long enough a pinched nerve can lead to other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or the rare condition peripheral neuropathy.  These conditions are most often temporary, but may rarely develop into a permanent disability.  It is important to be properly diagnosed by a medical professional early to avoid permanent damage to the nerve.

    Most people suffering from a pinched nerve will show symptoms of radiating pain, burning sensations, numbness, or a tingling sensation often referred to as “pins and needles”.  If you have ever had your hand or foot “fall asleep”, it is due to a nerve being compressed.  In rare cases damage from a pinched nerve will be irreversible, but most often with a quick diagnosis and a proper treatment plan the damage can be repaired.

    Often when people talk about a pinched nerve pain they are just making assumptions without much knowledge of the topic.  The answer to understanding a pinched nerve lies in understanding the spinal cord and the nerve types that can become pinched.

    The body and its nerves

    The nerves in your body begin at your brain and extend through your arms and legs relaying messages to your skin and muscles.

    Peripheral nerve – this grouping of nerves leave the spine and spans into your arms and legs.  They are made up of millions of nerve fibers that branch out from the spinal cord to various areas of the body controlling muscles and skin sensations

    Nerves and their functions

    • Efferent nerves – Nerves that send stimulatory signals to muscles and glands from the central nervous system
    • Afferent nerves – Nerves that send sensory signal from either skin or organ to the central nervous system
    • Neurons – Long thin nerve cells with the purpose of sending and receiving chemical-electrical messages for the nervous system

    Each peripheral nerve has a thick covering called the epineurium and a thin layer of underlying cells which form a sleeve called the perineurium.  Nerves are then divided into a multitude of fibrous bundles surrounded by the endoneurial sheath.  The peripheral nerves are supplied with an abundance of blood and nutrients.  When the supply becomes “pinched” the nerve begins to malfunction with the possibility of the nerve fibers eventually dying.

    Now that we understand what a nerve is and how it functions, it is easier to understand what happens when a nerve becomes pinched and how important it is to seek medical diagnosis and treatment as early as possible.

    Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the pinched nerve.  In the neck and shoulder, general symptoms will be felt in the arms and/or hands.  If the sciatic nerve is compressed then the symptoms will be felt in the buttocks, legs and feet.  For more detailed information specific to the location of your pinched nerve please follow the links below.

    Pinched nerve in neck
    Pinched nerve in shoulder
    Pinched sciatic nerve

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