Author: Natalie Meiri, D.C. Posted: 11/07/21
Many patients have presented to my office in tremendous pain stating they had a pinched nerve. Recently, a patient on his pain diagram drew lines from his neck radiating to his hand and low back radiating into his thigh and foot. Finally, he wrote, “I have a pinched nerve”. He wrote 10/10 for the pain level. He certainly did have a pinched nerve and several. Read on to find out about a “pinched nerve” and what it really means.
What is a “pinched nerve”?
The term “pinched nerve” is a colloquial term. It’s not a formal, literary or true medical term.
Pinched nerve is used to describe one type of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves. It may result from compression, constriction, or stretching of the nerve(s). Symptoms can include numbness, “pins and needles”, burning sensations, and pain radiating outward from the injured area.
A pinched nerve can occur at a number of sites in your body. A pinched nerve frequently is associated with pain in the neck or lower back. This type of pain can be caused by inflammation or pressure on the nerve root as it exits the spine. A herniated disc in your lower spine, for example, may do this causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. This is a problem with one of the discs that sit between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack to make your spine. A herniated disc occurs when some of the nucleus pulposus (soft central portion) pushes out through a tear in the annulus fibrosus (tough outer portion). A herniated disc, which can occur in any part of the spine, can pinch a nearby nerve.
Several problems can lead to similar symptoms of numbness, pain, and tingling in the hands or feet, but without pain in the neck or back.
This can include peripheral neuropathies. So a peripheral neuropathy, is a result of damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). It is a disease characterized by pain or loss of function in the nerves that carry signals to and from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to other parts of the body.
With carpal tunnel syndrome (neuropathy at the wrist), the median nerve runs through an osteofibrous tunnel created by the transverse carpal ligament and carpal (wrist) bones. Direct compression from ganglions (sac-like swelling or cyst), fractures, and dislocations is possible. However, it is more common to have a history of direct external pressure on the tunnel. Also, a history of prolonged wrist use in full flexion or extension (down or up) can be the culprit. Pressure inside the tunnel increases in these extreme repetitive positions. Additionally, other factors may contribute such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, connective tissue disorders and fluid retention as in pregnancy. Deficiency in B vitamins may predispose you to carpal tunnel syndrome as well.
Similarly, in tarsal tunnel syndrome (neuropathy at the ankle/foot), the posterior tibial nerve may be stretched or compressed in the tarsal tunnel. This tunnel is also a osteofibrous tunnel formed by bands of fascia called a retinaculum, calcaneus (heel bone), distal tibia (shin bone), and malleolus (ankle). Hyperpronation (ankle bone turns inward) is often the cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is due to tightening of the retinaculum or arch of the abductor hallucis muscle of the foot. This muscle enables the up and down movement of the big toe. However, trauma, swelling, ganglions, and anatomic variation (different from normal anatomy) may also cause compression.
Pinched nerves can develop suddenly or gradually.
Sudden compression usually occurs in a trauma such as a fall or car accident. More gradual compression usually occurs over time due to bony changes that develop with the aging process and/or due to repetitive activities. Development of bony overgrowth and bone spurs occurs with osteoarthritis. In addition, there may be narrowing in the spine due to bony overgrowth in the spinal canal where the nerves are located. Furthermore, spinal stenosis puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. This causes pain in the low back and legs.
As you can see, nerves can be “pinched” at many sites. You will need your doctor to examine where the nerve is irritated. Chiropractic manipulative treatment/ adjustments along with soft tissue techniques, therapeutic exercise, electric muscle stimulation, and ice/ heat therapies will provide relief for your pain.
Through regular visits, you can get pain relief and improve your health with chiropractic treatments without drugs or surgery. Pain due to a “pinched nerve”?…and chiropractic care at our North Palm Beach clinic is the best solution!
Call our office at 561-253-8984 which serves North Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach. Ask about your pain due to a “pinched nerve” and chiropractic care or make an appointment.