What is a Pinched Nerve?
Posted on 14th April 2022 at 12:04
What are nerves?
Did you know that our bodies work through electricity? It sounds odd, but our cells conduct electrical currents. Electricity is required for the nervous system to send signals throughout the body and to the brain, making it possible for us to move, think, and feel.
How does this happen?
Small electrical impulses travel from our brain to our limbs telling them when to move, how to move and what that should feel like. In return these limbs send messages back to the brain, which processes and interprets all this information. This two-way signalling system uses nerves to transport these messages all over the body, much like a huge network of wires. These nerves start from your spine in a large bundle (your spinal cord) and work their way through the body to the muscles, organs, and skin.
What causes a Pinched Nerve?
Much like the rest of your body, nerves need to be able to move freely to work at their best. If there’s interference with a nerve along its connection to a limb, then signals can be disrupted. This can cause a lack of sensation such as numbness, burning, and tingling to name a few, but can also cause pain.
Pinching can occur when something reduces the free movement of this nerve and traps it. This can happen anywhere along the length of the nerve and may include muscular tension squeezing the nerve. You may be more familiar with the example that when this occurs at the back of the hip, this is known as Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis muscle traps the sciatic nerve which consequently causes pain and lack of sensation down the back of the affected leg.
More commonly this pinching starts at the origin of the nerve at the spinal level. If there’s protrusion or ‘bulge’ at a disk, this can press on a nerve, usually during a forward bend position, causing several symptoms in the affected limb. Another similar mechanism can include a reduction in the space where a nerve exits the spine due to a locked joint. Usually this not only includes pain from the nerve, but is accompanied by reduced range of movement and also muscular spasm.
How can I fix a Pinched Nerve?
It’s important to recover the free movement of a nerve to reduce the symptoms that you may be getting. Depending on the mechanism of the pinching, this nerve can be freed up through a combination of treatment options. Manual therapy such as soft tissue release and sports massage can help to restore the normal tone of muscles and reduce tension.
These techniques can also be beneficial at improving the mobility of spinal joints and regaining any lost range of movement to reduce strain on the length of nerve. If a disk is pushing on a nerve, adapting lifestyle factors and introducing rehabilitation such as exercise and mobility drills can reduce the pressure on the affected area, which will encourage recovery and reduce the risk of re-injury.
If you believe you’re suffering with a pinched nerve and would like help identifying the cause and getting fast treatment, please get in touch. To book your Sports Therapy session to start your road to recovery, just contact us.
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