Do you suffering from pain in certain areas of your body? Does this pain often result in numbness or tingling? Or, does it feel like you have pins and needles going into your body?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves can affect your daily life, and if not properly treated, the symptoms can worsen and lead to more serious issues.
But, what is a pinched nerve? How can you tell when your nerve is pinched? Read this guide to learn all about pinched nerves.
What is a Pinched Nerve?
Pinched Nerves are also known as radiculopathy. Radiculopathy refers to a condition where a nerve root is compressed by some other tissue, which leads to pain, abnormal sensations, weakness, and/or loss of muscle control down the course of the nerve.
Radiculopathy refers to the impingement of a nerve root or Radix at or near the spinal cord. However, there are other conditions that can mimic radiculopathy. These occur when a nerve root is entrapped further from the spine by a muscle, bony structure, or another tissue. Examples of these include piriformis syndrome in the hip or carpal tunnel in the hands.
A pinched nerve can occur at different points on your body. For example, if you have a herniated disc in your lower spine, you may experience pain at the nerve root.
There are many other factors that lead to radiculopathy, these include degenerative disc disease, facet joint arthropathy, and arthritis.
What are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
So, how can you tell if you’re suffering from a pinched nerve? Pinched nerve symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. In some cases, they can be mild, while in other cases, they can be agonizing. Here are some of the main symptoms of a pinched nerve:
- Numbness or a lack of sensation in the area the nerve supplies
- Muscle weakness in the affected area
- Frequent feeling that affected area has “fallen asleep” (this is especially the case with hands and feet)
- Tingling or pins and needles sensation
- Burning, aching or sharp pain
It’s also important to note that the symptoms often worsen when one is sleeping.
Pinched Nerve Risk Factors
Unfortunately, there are certain factors that put people at greater risk for developing pinched nerves than others. Here are some of the main risk factors:
- Sex: Women have a greater chance of developing pinched nerves than men. This could possibly be due to the fact that they have smaller carpal tunnels.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you’re more likely to develop a pinched nerve.
- Bone Spurs: Any condition that causes bone thickening can cause bone spurs. Bone spurs can stiffen your spine and narrow the space where nerves have to travel, leading to pinched nerves.
- Thyroid Disease: Hypothyroidism can cause fluid build up and lead to pinched nerves.
- Overuse: If you have a job or hobby that involves a lot of repetitive motion, you’re more likely to develop a pinched nerve. For example, if you play tennis, work as a mover, or work on an assembly line.
- Pregnancy: Weight gain and water retention associated with pregnancy can cause your nerve pathways to swell and lead to pinched nerves.
- Obesity: Excessive weight gain can put extra pressure on your nerves.
Pinched Nerve Diagnosis
Luckily, diagnosing a pinched nerve is a pretty straightforward process.
A skilled clinician can diagnose a pinched nerve in the exam room and MRI’s are used for confirmation. Symptoms originating in the neck or cervical spine can often be uncovered using compression tests such as Spurling’s test. In the low body, clinicians use straight leg test and slump test to look for low back nerve impingement. Radicular problems are less common in the middle portion of the spinal column.
Pinched Nerve Treatment
So, what treatment options are available for a pinched nerve?
Acupuncture is one of the best ways to treat a pinched nerve. Acupuncture treatment reduces radicular pain by alleviating pressure on the nerve root. Accurate diagnosis, pin-point acupuncture treatment, and home exercises cure many pinched nerve situations!
However, sometimes acupuncture is not enough to relieve a pinched nerve. There are situations where the degeneration is too advanced, or a spinal disc is too damaged to be managed with acupuncture, and clinicians are trained to make referrals to appropriate doctors for these situations.
Are you wondering if acupuncture is safe? Click here to find out!
Pinched Nerve: Next Steps
If you think you’re dealing with a pinched nerve, your next step should be top seek treatment. As we mentioned, acupuncture is a good place to start.
If you’re looking for acupuncture services in the Portland, Oregon, area, contact us today!