Did You Pinch a Nerve for St. Patrick’s Day?

On St. Patrick’s Day last month everyone goes around pinching those who had the temerity to not don green attire. At least they can’t pinch a nerve.

What is a pinched nerve anyway? Can you actually pinch one? Let’s get into that in this April blog.

What is a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is actually just a term to describe nerve compression. A better term could actually be nerve squashing, as that’s usually more of what is happening. Nerves become compressed when pressure is applied to them by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, discs, muscles, tendons, or bone spurs. This pressure disrupts the nerve function and often produces pain in the area. If the compression continues, the pain can begin to radiate into the limb served by the nerve.

Compressed nerves are behind lots of painful problems, everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to drop foot to loss of muscle function.

What is behind that compression?

The nerves that are prone to compression are our peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that travel from the brain into the spinal column. From the spinal column, the nerves exit and go out to all parts of our body. This is how we have sensation, including pain. Compression often happens simply when a nerve runs through a relatively narrow space and that space becomes narrow due to inflammation, bone spurs, or a bulging or herniated disc. As the space becomes narrower, the nerve impacted becomes compressed.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve

A pinched/compressed nerve will give you these symptoms:

  • Aching, sharp, or burning pain that may radiate out to the limbs
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensations
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area
  • Numbness and/or decreased sensation in the area served by the nerve

In the neck, it’s easy to pinch nerves either by extended compression or from short-term issues such as sleeping on your face. These nerves in the neck and shoulders serve the head, face, and the arms. Symptoms will be frequent or chronic head and neck pain, shoulder tension or pain, and pain and weakness down the arms. Short-term pinching can cause pins and needles sensations and numbness that can pass relatively quickly.

Do you have signs of nerve compression? Call Dr. Tinley at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, and let’s see how we can help.

Posted in: Pinched Nerve

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