Our nervous system is a complex highway of nerves that carry important messages to and from our brain to the rest of our body.
When you have a pinched or compressed nerve, the body sends important warning signals such as numbness or pain, that should never be ignored. Damage from a pinched nerve can be minor and correctable, but if left untreated for too long can become permanent, and have a great impact on our daily lives. The earlier the diagnosis, the quicker you’ll get relief, and the better the chances of a full recovery.
Nerves are particularly vulnerable at spots in the body where they must pass through narrow spaces, such as the spine. A pinched or compressed nerve, like a kink in a garden hose, is caused when a nerve is pressed between tissues such a ligament, tendon or bone.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
Pressure or inflammation on a nerve running through the base of the spine, for example, can cause pain and tingling to radiate down through the legs and feet – “lumbar radiculopathy” or “sciatic nerve pain.”
Pressure on the nerve through the cervical vertebrae in the neck causes pain to radiate through the shoulder, down the arm and into the hand, which is called “cervical radiculopathy.”
Nerve compression is often caused by changes in the spine’s discs and bones. The discs in our spines serve as shock absorbers between the vertebrae and allow for smooth movement. But discs can break down, and if a disc bulges, cracks or tears, the disc can press on a nerve (nerve compression).
Nerve compression in the neck or arm can cause symptoms in the elbow, hand, wrist, and fingers, leading to peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow.
Over time, a compressed nerve can break down and become scarred, interfering with the nerve’s function. Sometimes the damage is permanent.
Because a pinched nerve can manifest itself as pain in another part of the body, the cause can often be overlooked until it’s too late. It’s crucial to contact a chiropractor at the first signs of any pain, numbness or tingling that doesn’t diminish within a minute or two.
Treating a Pinched Nerve
Chiropractors are specially trained in issues of the nervous system and can correct nerve impingement without invasive surgeries or medications.
A chiropractor will complete an evaluation of the nervous system and skeletal alignment to check for any subluxation or misalignment of the spine and recommend a treatment plan that will usually include spinal manipulation. The chiropractor will manipulate the misaligned vertebrae back into alignment. Regular visits to the chiropractor will help keep the vertebrae aligned, and any pressure off the nerve.
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