Anyone who has ever endured a pinched nerve is well aware of the pain and discomfort that it inevitably causes. While generally acute in terms of duration, there can be times when such a condition becomes chronic if not alleviated within a timely fashion. Still, it is important to appreciate what might cause a pinched nerve as well as some of the associated symptoms. We can then examine how this condition can be treated.
Pinched Nerves: The Causes and Symptoms
Sometimes known as an “impinged nerve” or “radiculopathy”, this condition occurs when an excessive amount of pressure is placed upon a nerve (or a bundle of nerves). This can be caused by discs, degenerative joints, muscles, ligaments or tendons. One of the issues is that such an impingement can occur nearly anywhere throughout the body. However, it is most likely to be felt within the joints (such as with Carpal tunnel syndrome) or in the cervical region. The neck, shoulders and lumbar spine are particularly prone to developing this condition due to physical stress, injury and/or poor posture.
There are many symptoms which could indicate the presence of a pinched nerve. A handful of telltale signs include:
- Numbness around a specific area that comes and goes.
- The sensation of “pins and needles”.
- A sharp pain that seems to radiate outwards (particularly within the joints).
- Hot or cold feelings without any environmental changes.
- Notable muscular weakness associated with the suspected area.
It is just as important to mention that some of these symptoms may be indicative of other conditions. One example is a situation known as cervical radiculopathy (when a nerve emerging from the spinal column is compressed). Therefore, it is important to obtain a professional diagnosis.
How is a Pinched Nerve Diagnosed?
The good news is that there are a host of modern diagnostic tools at your disposal. After consulting a physiotherapist, GP or specialist, several examinations may be recommended depending upon your condition and its severity. These include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (an MRI).
- X-rays or CT scans.
- Electromyography (EMG).
- A high-resolution real time ultrasound image.
- A nerve conduction test to determine the conductivity of your nerves.
If a pinched nerve has indeed been discovered, how might it be treated in order to ensure a speedy recovery?
What are Your Treatment Options?
The treatment will depend upon the diagnosis. For instance, targeted cervical radiculopathy physiotherapy can involve pain management techniques, manual therapy to the spine and surrounding musculature, traction, posture correction, and exercises intended to improve your range of motion, muscular stabilisation and nerve gliding. More broad solutions such as hot and cold therapy, rest, specific stretches, soft tissue techniques and medication and may also be able to provide a tangible sense of relief.
Above all, it is important to address a suspected pinched nerve sooner as opposed to later. If you believe that you may be suffering from this condition, please contact Turramurra Physiotherapy in order to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.