Have you been experiencing some weird and unusual symptoms lately? It could be that you’re dealing with a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves can cause all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms, but don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to treat them! We’ll talk about what pinched nerve symptoms to look out for, and we’ll also provide some tips on how to deal with them. Keep reading for more information!
The nerves are trapped!
Nerves are like wires that go throughout the body. If you have ever looked at an image of the nervous system, it looks like a lot of wires are everywhere in the body. These “wires”, every time you move, have to move correspondingly with it. For example, when someone is flexing an arm, the nerves can stretch. And if they extend the arm back, the nerves will have to take up all that space.
Across these different junctions of the body anywhere, a nerve can be trapped in some scar tissue and become a “pinched nerve”. A lot of people think about only their spine when they hear “pinched nerve”. The medical community has traditionally focused on spine injuries when discussing pinched nerves. But actually, any place where a nerve is compressed can be called a “pinched nerve.” This includes areas like your neck, back, shoulders, and everywhere else.
We can say this with confidence because when we do pain mapping, we’re tracing the root cause of an injury-causing pain. Then we will inject around the nerve to see how entrapped it is, or take a look under ultrasound, to look at the size of that nerve in areas where there is an entrapment, the nerve will swell up and look different. It is uncommon to find pinched nerves in the spine as the problem. The main problem is going to be what effects will take effect downstream from that trapped nerve.
Feeling the pinch
If you have a pinched nerve, you can feel weakness and dull, throbbing pain in a particular wiring system of the body. This works like when you have a pinched nerve at a nerve root, every nerve associated with that root is going to be affected. Weakness, motor coordination issues, a pins-and-needles kind of pain, or a sharp jolt of pain are to be expected.
However, we find this to be a rare problem. The problem with this nerve root can often lie in one of its ligaments. We’ve treated enough ligaments to know that we can put a numbing agent on a ligament and all of a sudden, the pain goes away telling us that it’s not necessarily the pinching of that nerve, but rather it is the damage associated with that nerve.
Sometimes people have pain in their arms that gets worse when they move. This doesn’t always mean that it is a nerve problem. There are many different reasons for this kind of pain. However, doctors, at times, worry too much about nerve damage without looking at other possible causes.
Even though the nerve looks like it has some compression around it on imaging, that can be from a ligament being lax elsewhere. Just opening that space up isn’t necessarily going to fix the problem. Picture it that If you ever had your hand caught in a door, notice that it’s not just the thumb that gets crushed and hurts. The whole hand will start to pulse. It’s because the signal from your thumb is such a loud alarm bell that your brain can’t distinguish where it’s coming from.
Joint Looseness and Mapping the pain
Laxity of joints could affect nerves. In our content about arthritis, we talked a lot about how these joints can move extra to cause potential laxity or too much movement. But unfortunately, as common as that is, it seems that those extra floppy ligaments can also be the origin of the pain that you’re feeling.
Pain mapping is a way of finding out which part of the nerve is sending pain signals. This can help us figure out if the pain is coming from the nerve or from some other tissue inside the nerve. In this complex process, we’re using the nervous system, the ligament system, the muscles, all of these different systems to figure out where the pain goes through.
Three factors to look for when we are concerned about pinch nerves:
1. A recent acute injury
Say, for example, somebody has had a fall, and all of a sudden, there is a distribution of pain that follows the path of that nerve. This can signal an actual pinched nerve. If there was a preexisting instability, then tissues can shift and now put that nerve in a compromised position, which is a more consistent pinched nerve.
2. A chronic issue
This could be something that has taken place long over time. This can cause diminished circulation around that nerve and cause pain. It’s not necessarily a pinched nerve as much as it is a reduction in circulation.
Swelling can also cause it. This can happen due to several factors such as swollen tissue, herniated discs, and bone spurs.
It’s important to figure out which of those is causing the symptoms because treatment is going to be very different. Surgery is not going to fix every single one of those issues.
Sustainable Treatment for Pinched Nerves
We need to use our tools to figure out where the problem is and how to fix it. One option would be to just make the pathway where the nerve is traveling through bigger, but that might not be a good long-term solution. A better option would be to create greater stability in that section. This way, the nerve doesn’t continue to get pinched.
Through the pain mapping, we can figure out which of those three different potential causes of pinched nerves there is. Then, we can determine what the most sustainable long-term solution is, as opposed to what is just going to help right now (which is surgery), but potentially introduce you to more scars. If they operate on it and open up that space, it can relieve the pressure off the nerve, but it’s also ignoring the instability which caused it to begin with.
A better long-term solution is to use strategies to help stabilize that segment. This might include exercises and types of injections that help steady ligaments and structures around the nerves or reduce the irritation and inflammation around the nerve.
When is surgery essential?
It’s essential in certain situations, although rare. In cases where there’s a radical change of trauma from a fall or acute injury, those may be in situations in which surgery is unavoidable This is so because the time it would take for things to stabilize is too long and you could end up having some nerve damage.
Some problems get worse over time. If your problem has been happening for a long time, it is worth taking the time to find out where the problem started and if surgery is the only way to fix it. You can also try other treatments that might help more.
While there are many sustainable treatments for pinched nerves, the most important thing is to seek help early on. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please do not hesitate to reach out and schedule a discovery call with one of our practitioners. We would be more than happy to help you get back on your feet and start feeling like yourself again. Thank you for reading!
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional