The Pain that is a Pinched Nerve
- Posted on: Feb 28 2017
Your nerves make up a network that extends from your brain and spinal cord. Their messages indicate sensations such as pain so that you cease the behavior or look to address the causes of the pain. When a nerve is compressed, you can think of it as being “pinched, holding” and your body sends out warning signals to get you to pay attention to it. At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we have various treatment methods for dealing with pinched nerves, from rest all the way up to surgery to relieve the compression.
What causes a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve occurs when pressure is placed on a nerve. This compression can be hold your body in one place for too long a period, such as when your elbows are bent while sleeping. Or it can be a result of repetitive motions or vibrations from certain repeating behaviors such as hitting a tennis ball.
These compressions usually happen where the nerves travel through narrow passageways and have little protection from surrounding soft tissue. A nerve pinches when it is pressed between tissues such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, discs, or bone. The pressure can disrupt the nerve’s function, leading to weakness, pain, tingling, or numbness.
Pinched nerves can occur throughout the body. The most common locations are the spine, specifically the neck and lower back, and the hands (through carpal tunnel syndrome).
Where the pain goes
Nerve compression can happen not only from nerves running through narrow spaces but also due to changes in the spinal discs and bones. For instance, if a patient has a disc that has weakened or has developed a tear in the outer membrane (a herniated disc) this condition often puts pressure on a spinal nerve.
A pinched nerve in your neck or arm may cause symptoms in areas such as your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers. Conditions related to this are peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. A compressed nerve exiting the lower spine can radiate pain down into the leg and foot (lumbar radiculopathy or sciatic nerve pain).
Treating a pinched nerve
At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, our treatments for pinched nerves range from conservative options to surgery. In many cases, a pinched nerve can be treated with rest and ice. If the pinched nerve is in the arm either at the elbow causing cubital tunnel syndrome or in hand as with carpal tunnel syndrome, a brace may be recommended to limit the amount of movement around the nerve. The brace also prevents the patient from making movements that may further compress the affected nerve.
Medications can be prescribed to calm the inflammation and block the nerve pain. Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be effective, as are nerve medications such as lyrica or neurontin. If the patient’s compressed nerves are coming from pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal canal, this can be stenosis, and we can place epidural injections of steroids into the compression area.
Finally, if these measures aren’t successful, we may opt for surgical solutions. These range from a simple procedure to open space for the nerves to the potential fusion of two or more discs.
If you’re suffering from a pinched nerve, don’t hesitate to call the team at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders at 817-916-4685. It’s important to address the problem before it begins to damage functionality.
Posted in: Compressed Nerve