What is a trapped nerve?

What is a trapped nerve?

What’s covered?

  • To Conclude
  • What is a trapped nerve?

    We have all felt it at some point, the stabbing pain when we turn our heads or when we stand up. This is all thanks to a trapped nerve or as it also known as a 'pinched nerve.' From the outset, it seems scary when you look up why your back hurts after a busy day or sleeping awkwardly. The warning signals are not something that should be ignored, your pinched nerve injuries can be anywhere from mild to severe and can take a few weeks to heal up with treatment. Most of the time, its not something to be overly worried about, however, the first step to being able to deal with a pinched nerve is to ask; what is a trapped nerve?

    In short, a trapped, pinched or irritated nerve is a nerve that has been compressed by surrounding tissues such as muscles, cartilage or tendons. The resulting pressure leaves you with irritating symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness and pain. These symptoms are warning signals sent to your brain to know that there is indeed something wrong.

    Poor posture or sitting in the same postion for long durations can lead to trapped nerves

    What are nerves?

    Your entire body is made up of nerves and their purpose is to send electrical signals from the brain to different parts of the body. This allows us to feel things, such as heat or pain, they even help control our muscles and digestion.

    Trapped nerve symptoms

    Usually, the following symptoms are associated with having a trapped nerve:

    • Pain. You might experience a burning pain or a stabbing pain in a localised area such as your lower back or neck

    • Numbness. In the area around the pinched nerve, you'll have a decreased sensation of feeling and even numbness.

    • Pins and needles. You might find you have a tingling feeling alongside decreased sensation in the area, or pins and needles, this is known as paresthesia

    • Muscle weakness. A trapped nerve could cause weakness in the muscle tissue around the compressed nerve. The muscles may even feel weak or even tight in the area

    • Worse at night. You might find that your symptoms are worse at night, especially if its pain if it's back pain such as sciatica or neck pain.

    Causes of trapped nerves

    With the vast amount of nerves in your body, it is not at all surprising that your nerves can get irritated in different ways. Pressure on your nerves can appear anywhere in your body leading to them becoming compressed nerves.

    • Sciatica.

      Sciatica is a painful condition in which the sciatic nerve, that runs down your lower spinal cord to your feet becomes irritated. Sciatica usually lasts for 4-6 weeks. During this time the pain can be anywhere from mild to chronic pain. Doctors will often prescribe strong pain medications to lessen your symptoms. Certain creams such as Algesal Cream are recommended for relieving the pain of Sciatica while it runs its course. Usually, the cause of Sciatica is a herniated disc or a back injury.

    • Carpal Tunnel syndrome.

      Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when pressure is placed on a nerve in your wrist. You might feel pain both in your hands and fingers as well as a tingling sensation or even numbness. Most of the time, Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated at home with wrist splints, painkillers and hand exercises. It usually goes away after a few weeks.

    • Rheumatoid arthritis.

      The inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can compress nerves, especially in your joints. The pain of arthritis usually occurs in the joints, and creams such as Deep Heat are a good way to reduce the pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis.

    • Irritated Nerve - Neck

      The neck is just one of the few places where nerve irritation can happen, such as the arms, legs and shoulders. Nerve compression is prevalent in the neck and the pain isn't always located just in the neck, it might even extend down into your arms and back. Trapped nerves in the neck can be caused by a variety of reasons ranging from poor posture, staying in one position for a long period of time, repetitive motions to even the position you have fallen asleep in. Depending on how serious the irritation is, in most cases, the nerve will settle down in anywhere between 6-12 weeks as the nerve heals.

      Trapped nerves occur when extra pressure is placed on a nerve by nearby tissue, joints or tendons

    Trapped nerve pain relief and treatment

    Fortunately, there is plenty of forms of pain management and treatment for pinched nerves both widely available from home and from the doctors depending on your level of pain.

    • Physical Therapy

      Through a combination of exercises, stretches and massages you can relieve pain and symptoms from your pinched nerve. Depending on your pain level, a physical therapist might be required to assist you.

    • Body massage

      Body massages are a form of physical therapy that reduces pain and stress. Often you can perform a gentle massage on yourself at home but also a trained massage therapist will be able to help relieve your tension in the affected area. A full body massage can help all the muscles relax as well as relieve your stress. However, it is best to avoid deep tissue massages as the additional pressure could irritate the nerve further.

    • Lumbar decompression surgery

      Typically used for treating sciatica and other conditions in which nerves are irritated in the lower back. During the surgery usually, a disc or vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure from the pinched nerve.

    • Painkillers

      Doctors will often recommend that you use painkillers as a source of pain relief when you have a pinched nerve. Ibuprofen reduces inflammation as well as other symptoms which can relieve the extra pressure on the pinched nerve. Depending on your level of pain you can acquire ibuprofen here. However, if you need something stronger for your pain, you should get a consultation for something stronger such as Phorpain (Ibuprofen) gel that can be applied directly to your source of discomfort.

    • Heat and Ice packs

      Heat and ice packs are excellent for reducing swelling in the areas of tight muscles around the trapped nerve. Switching between hot and cold will increase the circulation in the tissue and blood vessels around the trapped nerve, bringing fresh blood to the area which in turn may reduce pain.

      To Conclude

      While in many cases pinched nerves heal over time and are nothing to worry about, they aren't something to ever ignore. If left untreated or ignored, your symptoms could worsen and lead to nerve damage. If you are suffering from severe pain in one of your joints, back or neck, speak to your doctor. Alternatively, book a consultation here to get the appropriate treatment for your pain.

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