Are you concerned that you may have pinched a nerve recently, but are not sure how the injury occurred or what to do about it? Are you experiencing frequent discomfort, tingling sensations, numbness, and/or muscle weakness?
A pinched nerve can cause considerable pain and interrupt your quality of life if not attended to with the proper treatment and rest. As the discomfort associated with a pinched nerve can mimic other types of strain, it is important to understand what factors contribute to this condition. To help you better assess your current situation with a medical professional, we have put together a list of 5 common symptoms of pinched nerve.
What Is A Pinched Nerve?
Before delving into the symptoms of pinched nerve, there are general facts you should know about the condition and its root causes. A pinched nerve happens when too much force or strain is put on a particular nerve by the surrounding tissues. These tissues could be cartilage, tendons, muscles, or bones. This overt strain inhibits the nerve’s ability to operate as usual, manifesting in key physical signs like tingling, weakness, numbness, or pain.
The symptoms of pinched nerve and the affected area itself may pop up in various parts of your body. For instance, a herniated disc in the lower region of your spine could put excess force on the root of the nerve, resulting in reflective pain shooting down your leg. If you were to pinch a nerve in your wrist, you would likely experience numbing sensations and pain going outwards into your fingers and the rest of your hand.
Symptoms of pinched nerve and the condition itself can result from a number of factors, but there are some primary causes that bear mentioning. The force or pressure that weakens the nerve and causes it to become pinched could stem from the surrounding cartilage or bone, such as when a herniated disc is present.
Alternatively, injured tendons or muscles can cause a pinched nerve. If you are experiencing a pinched nerve in your wrist as the result of carpal tunnel syndrome, there are an assortment of factors that typically result in the condition. These include an expanded bone that closes the gap in your carpal tunnel, inflated tendon sheath inside the carpal tunnel, or deteriorating ligaments.
Some other primary causes that lead to symptoms of pinched nerve include injury to the nearby tissues, arthritis, repeated movements that strain your muscles, physical activities like sports, and even obesity. When the nerve becomes pinched temporarily, the condition usually resolves itself within a short period of time and there are no ongoing issues. However, if the pinched nerve does not heal quickly and the pressure on your nerve goes on unabated, chronic discomfort and pain, as well as damage to the nerve itself may take place.
There are key contributing factors that typically increase your chances of experiencing symptoms of pinched nerve. Sexual intercourse may increase your chances of having a pinched nerve, especially for females. Sexual activity can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome as women typically have much more compact carpal tunnels than men.
Bone spurs, arthritis, and thyroid disease may also lead to symptoms of pinched nerve. Bone spurs cause your bones to bulk up, tensing the spine and tightening the area where your nerves function, causing the pinched condition. Rheumatoid arthritis causes considerable inflammation throughout the body that may put excess pressure on your nerves, particularly when stemming from arthritic joints.
Thyroid disease increases your risk of having carpal tunnel syndrome and your chances of a pinched nerve. Some other contributing factors include diabetes, strain from repetitive hand, shoulder or wrist action, obesity, weight gain during pregnancy, and lengthy periods of inactivity such as bed rest.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Pinched Nerve?
One of the most common set of symptoms of pinched nerve you may think of when trying to pinpoint this condition are the standard burning, tingling, prickling, or stabbing sensations of pain. However, one of the primary symptoms of pinched nerve is not a feeling of pain, but of complete numbness.
You may lose feeling and experience significant numbing in the area surrounding the pinched nerve. This can affect your sense of touch, which makes even simple movements and activities inherently difficult.
Worsened Discomfort At Night
Another one of the frequent symptoms of pinched nerve is worsened pain or discomfort when you are trying to sleep. Sometimes, the nerve pain increases when you lie down to rest after a long day, interrupting your sleep patterns and causing considerable frustration. This is an important symptom to note, as lack of sleep can reap negative effects on your health when experienced over a long stretch of time.
When you are dealing with this condition, another one of the common symptoms of pinched nerve is bad balance. If you are experiencing numbness which reduces your power of touch, it can ultimately cause a loss of balance and decreased muscular capabilities.
Sensitivity to Certain Triggers
One of the symptoms of pinched nerve that may be more difficult to detect is sensitivity to certain triggers which were never an issue previously. For example, you might notice that environmental factors or stimuli increase your pain or cause other manifestations like numbness and tingling.
Certain standing or sitting positions may cause pain where they never did before. You might find that your favorite sleeping position suddenly causes shooting pains, seemingly out of nowhere.
One of the primary marks and symptoms of pinched nerve is reflective pain that spreads and progresses. Nerve pain may start out with mild discomfort but increase into palpable pain that disrupts your life and inhibits you from performing regular activities. If your pinched nerve results from a separate physical condition that is left untreated, your pain and accompanying symptoms will worsen. For instance, if the compression causing the pinched nerve results from diabetes, leaving the diabetes untreated will increase the progression of the nerve condition.
Nerve pain typically starts somewhere in your hands and feet and slowly reflects to other parts of your body, such as your arms or legs. It is important to seek treatment immediately if your pinched nerve does not resolve itself within a short period of time; otherwise, the progression will continue and can cause significant damage. In fact, if you receive the correct treatment in an appropriate period of time, you can hinder further progression of the nerve pain and counter your symptoms effectively.
How Do You Treat A Pinched Nerve?
Speak With Your Doctor
Before you can decide how to best treat symptoms of pinched nerve, it is imperative to speak with your doctor regarding the issues you are experiencing to determine the best course of action. Your doctor will question you regarding your symptoms, how long they have been occurring, and what lifestyle alterations you have had to make to accommodate them. This will provide your doctor with crucial information to assess your situation and see what level of progression you are dealing with.
There are a number of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, that can be effective aids to abate the symptoms of pinched nerve. Your doctor may suggest one type or the other, or a combination of both, depending on the details of your particular situation and how much the pinched nerve has progressed.
Certain medications like acetaminophen or steroid-free anti-inflammatories are common non-prescription drugs that offer relief. Other over-the-counter medications could include oils, sprays, ointments, gels, or creams that can you can apply topically to ease your discomfort. If your doctor recommends a prescription drug to treat the pinched nerve, you might end up taking anything from a strong painkiller to an anxiety medication that contains components which dissolve nerve pain.
Natural Healing Options
If you are interested in more natural healing options to ease your symptoms of pinched nerve, alternative therapies might suit. Some individuals find relief through treatments like acupuncture, while others prefer incorporating strong dietary supplements into their wellness regimen, like Vitamin B12. Speak with your doctor regarding the options or a combination of treatment measures that are right for you.
There are preventative measures you can take at once to hinder you from experiencing symptoms of pinched nerve in the future and to improve your condition. Be sure to have good posture and stay mobile. Do not stay in one particular position for too long a period of time, to avoid stiffness and pressure on sensitive areas of your body.
Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen, making sure you focus on building strength in your core and extremities. Finally, try to avoid repetitive actions that continuously strain your muscles and tendons, taking breaks when performing them to ensure that compression does not occur.
Dealing with the symptoms of pinched nerve is a process that looks different for everyone. Some people respond best to a combination of alternative therapies, rest, and dietary supplements. Others do better with anti-inflammatory prescription medications and ointments.
If your symptoms of pinched nerve abate within a short time, the compression is likely a temporary irritant that has not caused permanent damage. However, if your discomfort does not resolve itself, seek the advice of a medical professional at once to determine the best course of action to treat your pinched nerve.