When a nerve becomes entrapped or ‘pinched’, usually because of injury to structures next to the nerve, this is referred to as a ‘Pinched nerve’, where nerve pain, damage and associated symptoms can occur. Self-diagnosed pinched nerves rarely need to be operated on and even upon MRI diagnosis, the rehabilitation of the poor biomechanics (often the cause of your dysfunction) have been found to be an effective treatment option with a significantly lower risk profile. Symptoms could be created by muscle tension, so the nerve is often unaffected, even with feeling symptoms of tingling, pins and needles and pain. But don’t underestimate it, the perception of a pinched nerve can and should be comprehensively assessed by an experienced Physiotherapist. Should there be any damage beyond that with which a Physiotherapist can assist, you will be referred to a surgeon for a second opinion.
In which areas of the body do Pinched nerves most commonly occur?
Although you can pinch a nerve anywhere in the body, it is more likely to happen where the space around the nerve is limited, as is the case in the Carpal tunnel, a tunnel through which the nerve passes in front of the wrist. So, this is the area where the commonly known ‘Carpal tunnel syndrome’ occurs.
The most common however and best known pinched nerve is the Sciatic nerve, situated in the lower back. A symptom of ’Sciatica’ is referred pain in the leg, and could result from pressure due to an Arthritic spur, a ligament injury or disc problems.
If there is pain in the arm, weakness or altered reflexes, it is possible that you have a pinched nerve in the neck, the second most common area of occurrence. The medical term for Pinched nerve in the neck is ‘Cervical Radiculopathy’ and be warned that it can be far reaching and deceptive. Some conditions diagnosed as Carpel tunnel syndrome and Tennis elbow for example, turn out to originate from pinched nerves in the neck.
How do I know I have a Pinched nerve....and need to see my Physiotherapist?
Pinching of your nerve can result in a combination of nerve pain, sensory loss, muscle weakness or altered reflexes...and possibly even loss of bladder or bowel control, depending on the function of the affected nerve. Whenever there is this reduction in or loss of power, it is essential to have an assessment ASAP as this often indicates true nerve involvement! Short of this scary scenario, if you have discomfort and you merely suspect some nerve involvement, physiotherapy should still be your first stop to address the situation.
Rest assured though that in the hands of an experienced physiotherapist, the cause and symptoms accompanying pinched nerves can be greatly alleviated if not totally resolved. Contact us for advice or a consultation.
Shoulder and Arm
Elbow and Forearm
Wrist and Hand
Upper Back and Chest
Hip and Thigh
Knee and Leg
Ankle and Foot
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