Pinched nerve is a condition that is very common and almost each one of us must have encountered it in our life. The main reason for pinched nerve is because of a minor muscle tweak or injury. In normal situations, it abates within a couple of days by learning to take things easy.
Treat Pinched Nerves
However, if the symptoms persist for a number of days, it is important to see a doctor because it could be because of a degenerative condition of the spin, especially in the cervical region.
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In simple words, nerve compression occurs because of constriction, irritation or inflammation of a nerve anywhere in the body. When the nerve becomes compressed its normal functioning gets impaired which gets manifested by various symptoms.
Localized pain is the first symptom associated with nerve compression. However, it could also manifest itself in various other symptoms depending on the cause, location and severity of the problem.
Pinched nerve is very common in the neck area because the cervical area of the spine is given the task of supporting the weight of the skull apart from helping in full range of motion which is required for normal function of the neck. This dual responsibility often results in minor injuries. Small things like improper sleeping posture and overexertion could lead to a pinched nerve on the neck.
As people age, it is quite common for many of us to complain of many degenerative spine conditions associated with normal wear and tear. While this is a natural process of ageing, when nerve compression happens due to these reasons, we could develop many chronic symptoms
A number of degenerative changes could occur in the cervical spine area as we start ageing. A few of the spinal conditions that could lead to nerve pinching caused by aging process are as follows.
- Degenerative disc disease is the most common condition. The vertebrae in the cervical spine area are kept apart by spongy and thick intervertebral discs. As we age these discs can become worn and brittle, the walls of the disc become inflamed which leads to disc material to seep to move inside the spinal canals which can pinch the nerves inside the vertebrae.
- Facet disease is another condition which caused pinched nerve. Vertebrae are connected with another by facet points in the spinal columns. These facet points are coated with cartilage. Further these facet points or joints are drowned in a lubricating fluid which enables free mobility, flexibility and stability of the spinal cords.
- Spinal stenosis. As we age, these cartilage coatings tend to wear away resulting in painful bone to bone contact. The spinal canal is the place where the spinal cord is housed apart from various important nerve roots. With age the spinal canal becomes narrower which can cause compression of the nerves causing pain and discomfort.
- Osteophytes is caused because of soft tissue irritation, calcification of the ligament or even because of presence of tumor within the cervical spine. Infections and a few more causes could also lead to what is known as osteophytes.
Nerve Compression Symptoms
Several symptoms could point to nerve compression and a few of them are:
- muscle weakness
- stiffness or soreness
- feeling of tingling and a feeling of pins and needles.
- numbness and a sensation of heat
The big problem with pinning down symptoms and relating it to nerve compression is that it could relate to symptoms in some other unrelated areas of the body. In many cases people suffering from pinched nerve could have symptoms that could occur in their arms, elbows, shoulders, fingers, hands and many other parts of the upper body. Hence diagnosing pinched nerve accurately is very important for effective treatment.
Pinched Nerve in the Neck Diagnose
The only way by which pinched nerve can be diagnosed is by visiting a doctor. Apart from enquiring about your medical history, the doctor will put across to you a series of questions in an effort to identify the symptoms and to understand your condition better.
This certainly will help when the cause of nerve compression is not very apparent. So, as a patient it would be useful to keep a track of the various symptoms, their onset and the severity of the same. Family history is taken into account very seriously because arthritis could also be the reason for pinched nerve.
Other physical examinations could range of motion tests and pressure applications. They can be uncomfortable but are very important for correct diagnosis of the pinched nerve. X-ray, CT scan and MRI are also recommended to diagnose the problem correctly.
Pinched Nerve Treatments
Treatments of pinched nerve have quite a few options and would depend on the severity of the problem. There cannot be a straight jacketing of treatment because what could be effective for X may not be suitable for Y. So, the doctor is the best person who can advise on the right line of treatment.
Usually the doctor begins treatment with a series of conventional approaches where the objective is to remove the compression which can help manage the patients’ pain. NSAID drugs, heat and ice applications, low impact stretching exercises are usually the first line of treatment methods.
There are also a number of alternative treatments which finds favor with many patients. These include vitamin supplements, deep tissue massage and chiropractic therapies.
In many situations, conservative treatments could prove ineffective and in such cases, decompression surgery could be considered. However, this is considered as the treatment of the last resort, but for many patients it could be the last resort to overcome pain and discomfort. Invasive spinal fusion is used where a grafted bone is used to give stability to the spine.
There are also some state of the art endoscope techniques that can be done without having the need to be kept in a nursing home or hospital for days at length. While each and every treatment has its own pros and cons, you should have faith in your doctor and help him or her to choose something that is best suited considering your age, general state of health, severity of the problem, family diseases and so on.