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Pinched Nerve: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Jan 18, 2024

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Causes Of Pinched Nerve

Symptoms Of Pinched Nerve

Risk Factors Of Pinched Nerve

Diagnosis Of Pinched Nerve

Treatment Of Pinched Nerve

Physical assistance

Medications

Surgery

Prevention Of Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can be brought on by severe pressure from nearby tissues including muscles, tendons, cartilage, or bones. This pressure might cause numbness, weakness, tingling, or discomfort.

Pinched nerves can occur in a wide range of body parts. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may put pressure on a nerve root. This could cause pain in the back of the leg. A pinched nerve in the wrist can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, which can numb and hurt the hand and fingers.

With rest and other conservative therapy, most patients recover from a pinched nerve in a few days or weeks. Surgery may be necessary in some situations to relieve pinched nerve pain.


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Causes Of Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve is caused when surrounding tissues compress or apply excessive pressure on a nerve.

This tissue may be cartilage or bone in specific situations, such as when a herniated spinal disc compresses a nerve root. Alternatively, a muscle or tendon may compress a nerve.

In carpal tunnel syndrome, a variety of tissues may compress the median nerve in the wrist's carpal tunnel. It could be caused by a thicker and degenerative ligament, swollen tendon sheaths inside the tunnel, or enlarged bone that narrows the tunnel.

Numerous conditions can lead to tissue compression of a nerve or nerves, including:

  • Injury.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or wrist arthritis.
  • Strain resulting from laborious work.
  • Sports
  • Being overweight

A nerve squeezed for a short while usually has no long-term consequences. Pressure relief causes nerve function to be restored. Conversely, the pressure may cause chronic pain and irreversible nerve damage.

Also Read: Hiatal Hernia: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis And Treatment

Symptoms Of Pinched Nerve

The following are signs of a pinched nerve:

  • Decreased feeling or numbness in the region that receives nerve supply.
  • A potentially spreading intense, throbbing, or searing pain.
  • Tingling or a sensation similar to pins and needles.
  • Wasting away of the injured muscles.
  • Frequently feeling as though a foot or hand has "fallen asleep."
  • The symptoms of pinched nerves may worsen while you're asleep.

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Risk Factors Of Pinched Nerve

Your susceptibility to a pinched nerve may be increased by the following factors:

  • Sex: Women may be more prone to develop carpal tunnel syndrome because their carpal tunnels are smaller.
  • Spurs connected to the bones: Osteoarthritis and other disorders that cause bone thickening can cause bone spurs. The region where your nerves pass might be constricted by bone spurs, which can squeeze nerves and cause stiffness in the spine.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation can compress, especially in your joints.
  • Diseases of the thyroid: The risk of carpal tunnel syndrome is increased in those with thyroid dysfunction.

Additional risk variables consist of:

  • Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to experience nerve compression.
  • Overuse: The risk of developing a pinched nerve is higher in occupations or pastimes that demand repetitive hand, wrist, or shoulder movements. Work on assembly lines is included in this.
  • Being overweight: Nerves might become more compressed by excess weight.
  • Maternity: Pregnancy-related weight gain and water retention can expand nerve pathways and pinch your nerves.
  • Extended bed rest: The danger of nerve compression can rise with prolonged lying down.

Also Read: Scrotal Masses: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Diagnosis Of Pinched Nerve

To diagnose a pinched nerve, your doctor will interview you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination.

If your doctor thinks you may have a pinched nerve, you may need to undergo some tests. These tests might include the following:

  • Blood tests: You might need to undergo fasting blood glucose testing or thyroid function tests.
  • Spinal taps are sometimes known as lumbar punctures: During this examination, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is extracted from the area surrounding your spinal cord. The CSF may be obtained by a lab to examine for inflammation or infection.
  • Radiography: These pictures show the locations of the bones. They can demonstrate any damage or constriction that could cause a pinched nerve.
  • Nerve conduction study: Using electrodes applied to your skin, this test assesses the electrical nerve impulses and functionality in your muscles and nerves. Your nerve signals' electrical impulses are measured in the study when a tiny current flows through the nerve. Test findings can indicate whether you have nerve damage.
  • Electrocardiogram (EMG): An electrode needle is placed under your skin into many different muscles to record an EMG. Your muscles' electrical activity during contractions and at rest is assessed by this test. The findings of the tests indicate to your healthcare provider whether there is injury to the nerves that supply the muscles.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging is referred to as MRI: This examination uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to make exact images of your body in several planes. This test may be used by a medical professional if they suspect nerve root compression in you.
  • High-resolution ultrasound imaging: Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal organs and tissues of the body. It is helpful in the diagnosis of disorders involving nerve compression, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Also Read: Functional Dyspepsia: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment Of Pinched Nerve

The most common treatment for a pinched nerve is to rest the affected area. Stop doing anything that makes the symptoms worse or causes compression.

Depending on where the pinched nerve is located, you may need to use a brace, collar, or splint to immobilise the affected area. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may need to wear a splint at night as well as during the day. Wrists often flex and expand when we sleep.

Physical assistance

A physical therapist can provide you with exercises that will stretch and strengthen your muscles in order to reduce pressure on the nerve. Another thing your physical therapist can suggest is avoiding things that make you uncomfortable.

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and other brands) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), can be used to treat pain. Anti-seizure drugs such gabapentin (Neurontin, Horizant, Gralise) may help with nerve-related pain. Tricyclic drugs such as nortriptyline and amitriptyline (Pamelor) can also be used.

Corticosteroids can be taken orally or intravenously to lessen pain and inflammation.

Surgery

If your symptoms don't improve after a few weeks to months of conservative treatment, you may require surgery. Surgery may be used to alleviate the nerve. Several surgical methods are employed, depending on the location of the pinched nerve.

During surgery, bone spurs or a section of a herniated disc in the spine might need to be removed. Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome entails severing the carpal ligament to provide greater room for the nerve to pass through the wrist.

Also Read: Morton's Neuroma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention Of Pinched Nerve

The following steps could help you prevent a pinched nerve:

  • Maintain the best possible posture. Steer clear of crossing your legs or lying down in a prone position.
  • Incorporate exercises for both strength and flexibility into your regular training regimen.
  • Set time limits and take frequent breaks when engaging in repetitive activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to ease your body's tension.

Also Read: Bladder Exstrophy: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

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