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What is a Pinched Nerve?

The human body is largely electrical in nature. This means that messages from the body to the brain and back again travel along an electrical grid called the nervous system. The nerves can be found all over the body, including skin. Some nerves, such as those located beneath skin, help the body sense or feel. Others are strictly messengers. The nerves most capable of being pinched, however, are located along the spine.

The nerves in the spine are assigned an area of the body regarding which to transmit signals to the brain. The nerves lie between the vertebrae on either side of the spine, which goes through the vertebrae. If a nerve in the lower spine is pinched in the right place, pain, numbness or tingling could be felt in the left foot.

Heres an example. Perhaps someone lifted a heavy object onto a shelf above shoulder height. A nerve near the shoulder blade was pinched. While the neck might not be involved, the arm corresponding to the location of the pinched nerve will be affected. Range of motion will be affected, in that the person will not be able to lift the arms above shoulder level.

Nerves are pinched when the muscles surrounding them are strained severely or torn. Hyper stretching a part of the body will engage the muscles, leaving the corresponding nerve susceptible to being pinched by the vertebrae. It is a stabbing, burning type pain, immediately recognizable. Failure of the corresponding body part is also immediate and acutely felt.

Methods of treatment for a pinched nerve include muscle relaxers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, physical therapy or chiropractic services. Relaxing the involved muscles and nerve endings are necessary before damage control, such as physical therapy, can be performed. The goal is to release the nerve before the integrity of the muscles can be addressed.

If a person with a pinched nerve doesn't have access to the insurance needed by a physician, treating the problem could include the use of hot and cold compresses. The heat soothes the muscle, while the cold reduces inflammation. Gentle exercise of the muscles to strengthen them may be performed. Strong muscles are not as susceptible to strain and tearing, thus making pinched nerves less possible.

While self-treatment for a pinched nerve isn't advisable without a physician’s advice or guidance, there are physical therapy moves that will help. Regaining range of motion and loosening the grip on the corresponding body part are the goals. If more conservative methods dont work, a more advanced procedure like laser spine surgery may be able to provide relief. Seeking medical help immediately will help anyone with a pinched nerve.


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