What is a nerve?
Nerves are the wires of the body that connect the Brain to the muscles and vice versa. The ones to the muscle are called Motor nerves as they cause the muscles to move. Sensory ones are the ones that take information to the brain. These are present throughout the body.
The information travels along the nerve by an electrochemical signal, much like information traveling along an electrical cord. When a nerve is pinched, the signal is interrupted somewhere along its path.
What is a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve is when a nerve is damaged or injured by direct pressure i.e. compression. Thus impeding the transmission of the electrochemical signal. There are many potential causes for a pinched nerve, depending on the location of the nerve.
Where can you have a pinched nerve?
It is possible to have at most joints in the neck as well as in the back. We will concentrate for the pinched nerve in the back.
What are the causes of pinched nerve?
- A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a nerve. This compressions could be caused by :
- Repetitive motion
- Anatomical – where they nerve passes through a narrow passage between various structures such as the ligament, tendon, bone.
- Scar tissue
What are the symptoms?
Nerve compression can be masked and it is important for an accurate diagnosis. As the only symptom could be pain or you might have a few of the symptoms below without pain. These could be present in the area or the areas of the body which is innervated by the nerves in the back.
These symptoms could be:
- Pain in the back
- Radiating pain, sciatica
- Pins & needles, numbness or burning in the back or down the leg as the nerve goes down the leg.
- Weakness, especially with certain activities
What are the treatment options?
The treatment options are varied depending on the cause of the compression on the nerve. See your health care professional to get it assessed so the most suitable treatment for your problem can be commenced at the earliest. Often more than one intervention run concurrently will be the best option.
Some of the possible options:
- Rest – from the pain producing movement
- Reducing swelling of surrounding tissue – NSAID, Steroids as a medication or injection
- Pain medication
- Physiotherapy to correct the problem by strengthening or loosening muscles around the area of the pinched nerve
- Surgery to remove scar tissue, disc material, pieces of bone
- Work with your doctor to find the best approach for treating your symptoms.
Disclaimer: The information is for informative purposes and not to replace proper treatment. For more information or to book an appointment please contact Sydney Physios and Allied Health Services