What is a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can be painful there are several things that can happen that will leave you with a pinched nerve. The result regardless of the cause is a damaged nerve that can not produce the right information to be transmitted to your brain.

Nerves have two states on or off. The on state means that they are active and there is something going on with the body that the brain needs to pay attention to. The nerve fires and the body responds. Typically the nerve will fire a pain signal as a warning that the activity that the body is engaged in is potentially harmful.

Nerves act as the bodies warning system so when they fire the result is usually a feeling of pain. When nerves become damaged they tend to stay in the on position which means that they continuously fire the pain signal even when the danger has passed.

The problem with a “pinched” nerve is that it is not just one nerve and it can be very difficult to narrow it down.

So What Causes a Pinched Nerve

There are several things that can cause a pinched nerve. The most likely and which sounds simple enough is moving the wrong way. If you turn to quickly or lift something the wrong way you can easily cause injury to yourself.

A nerve becomes “pinched” when there is undue pressure placed on the nerve. This can happen when you slip a disc in your back, break a bone, land the wrong way during a fall or in some rare cases scoliosis of the spine can cause a pinched nerve.

There is little known about nerve damage although there is constant research in to the topic. What is known is that the pinched nerve tends to calm after the pressure is removed from it either by naturally reducing the swelling over time or through surgery.

The nerves of the scalp, face, and side of neck.
The nerves of the scalp, face, and side of neck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Treatments

There are several different treatment therapies when you have a pinched nerve. The treatments will largely depend on where the nerve is pinched and by the injury that caused it. If you have a spinal disorder it is quite likely that treatment will be your only option and a cure may still be out of reach for now.

Treatment does provide a good deal of relief. Treatment options can include:

Brace therapy
drug therapy
bed rest
water therapy
heat/cold therapy

Many times when you pinch a nerve in your neck your doctor will recommend keeping your neck immobilized which can be obtained by wearing a neck brace. These braces are normally padded and are comfortable enough to wear during both sleep and waking hours. The idea is to keep from further injuring the nerves in your neck.

The same is true of injuries to the wrist, knee, ankle or foot. You will likely be given a brace to allow for the nerve to heal without further injury. Braces are used on all parts of the body that can benefit from being kept immobile.

You can just about guarantee that you will be given some type of medication. Drug therapy will include anti inflammatory drugs and pain medications. There are many prescription medications on the market that are made to alleviate nerve pain some of these medications are non narcotic and completely safe.

Back injuries are a bit difficult to treat with braces so if you throw your back out and it results in a pinched nerve you are likely to be ordered to bed. Bed rest is one of the best ways to treat a pinched nerve in your back.

Water therapy can also help with pinched nerves. Sitting in jetted tub of warm water can also ease the pain of a pinched nerve. You may be able to participate in water therapy to ease some of the pain. It can also help you to move limbs without the pain which will keep you from stiffing up.

Cold therapy alternated with heat therapy can help you lessen the swelling in the injured area while alternating with heat like from a heating pad.

Deep palmar nerves.
Deep palmar nerves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A pinched nerve can be very painful and affect areas that were never even injured. Your nerves run up and down from your feet to your head so when you pinch a nerve in your neck you can sometimes feel the pain all the way to your knee and beyond.

RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) can be the result of nerve damage left untreated so it is important to get treatment as soon as you realize something is not quite right. RSD can be a long term chronic illness that will effect the side of your body that has the pinched nerve.You can experience swelling on the side of your body that has the pinched nerve when RSD develops. Get the help you need as soon as you can.

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