Have you ever had a sharp, persistent pain that lasted a few days and suddenly disappeared? Well, you might have been suffering from a pinched nerve. This detailed guide will tell you everything you need to know about pinched nerves, including possible solutions and treatments.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve is when surrounding tissues compress a nerve and impair its normal function. The culprits of a pinched nerve can be anything from bones to muscles, cartilage, and tendons.Pain associated with a pinched nerve can be minor or severe. It most frequently occurs along the spinal cord but can also happen in other parts of the body, such as the wrists and hands.
Pinched Nerve Symptoms
You’ll know you have a pinched nerve if you are suffering from any of the following symptoms:
- Burning pain that radiates outward
- Sharp or shooting pain
- Tingling or paresthesia
- Muscle weakness
- A sensation of a limb falling asleep
Pulled muscles are sometimes mistaken for pinched nerves, but can be ruled out based on the nature of the pain. A pulled muscle exhibits dull achy pain in a centralized location, whereas pinched nerve pain is sharp and radiates to other parts of the affected area.
Although anyone can suffer from a pinched nerve, several factors increase the risk of developing one:
- Sex: Women are at a higher risk, especially in the carpal tunnel
- Bone spurs: These lead to bone thickening that can cause pinched nerves
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Inflammation associated with this condition can lead to compressed nerves in various areas of the body.
- Jobs and hobbies: Any activity that requires repetitive motions, such as long-term keyboard usage or assembly line work, can cause a compressed nerve
Other contributing factors include:
- Thyroid disease
It is possible to develop a pinched nerve even if you don’t have any of these risk factors.
Treatments for Pain
There are several pinched nerve treatments you can try at home to speed the recovery process and alleviate pain.
- Heat: Use a heating pad or warm compress to relax the muscles around the pinched nerve
- Cold: Alternate your heat treatment with cold compresses to help reduce any swelling in the area
- Stretching and exercise: You might not feel like moving much, but stretching and mild exercise, such as walking, can ease muscles contributing to a pinched nerve
- Massages: Try working through some of your muscle tension with a handheld massager or book an appointment with a local massage therapist or spinal care clinic
You can also use anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen to take the edge off your pain. If the pain reaches a point where you need medicine to function, then it’s time to call your doctor.
When to See Your Doctor
A pinched nerve will often repair itself within a few days. However, you should see your doctor if the pain remains persistent or increases in intensity despite the use of home care solutions.When left untreated, a pinched nerve can lead to chronic pain and permanent nerve damage. Doctors can offer you more advanced levels of treatment, including non-invasive medical procedures such as laser therapy.
Begone, Pinched Nerve
No one likes dealing with pain. At least now you know what might be causing it and how to treat it. We encourage you to contact our office for assistance if you experiencing any symptoms associated with a pinched nerve.