Pinched nerves causing back pain and neck pain
Nerves are found throughout your body, and most commonly become pinched in specific areas of the neck, lower back, hands, elbow and wrist. Nerves in the spine become pinched because of a herniated disc that is compressed and then bulges outwards to put pressure on a spinal nerve. Though this can happen anywhere in the spine, the lower back and neck areas are the most common. You may feel pain in the area that radiates outwards to surrounding areas, and also some stiffness or numbness. Luckily, the outlook is good for a pinched nerve as most people fully recover with non-invasive treatments.
Pinched Nerve Causes
Pinched nerves are quite common and can affect a person of any age. However, risk increases as people get older and those who are 50 or older have increased risk due to arthritis and degeneration of the spine. There are a number of causes of pinched nerves since nerves are found throughout the body. A sudden impact can cause a herniated disc, which in turn pinched a nerve.
Car Accident Pinched Nerve
Car accidents cause a sudden and quick impact on the body, often with a jerking motion of the neck and back known as whiplash. This type of impact can cause a herniated disc immediately, or cause enough damage to set in motion spinal issues that appear further down the road. Pinched nerves happen often after a car accident, but sometimes can develop over the coming days or weeks, so getting checked out after an accident is recommended even if you don’t feel any pain right away. Other types of motions and impacts can have a similar effect like from a sport or movement from exercise or lifting weights.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in the joints causing inflammation which can put pressure on the nearby nerves and pinch one of them. The source of this inflammation is the patient’s own immune system which is the body overreacting to itself. The most common age range for rheumatoid arthritis is between 20 and 50.
Aging has the effect of natural wear and tear of spinal discs, which is called degenerative disc disease. Your spine is made up of vertebral bones that have discs in between them that act as cushioning, allowing the spine to flex and bend. These discs lose their water content with age and start weakening and flattening, which can result in a herniated disc, or bone spurs that both can pinch a nerve in the spine.
Nerve Compression Syndrome
Nerve compression syndrome is the outcome of a pinched nerve, and describes a single location where symptoms are happening. This can also be called nerve entrapment syndrome, or compression neuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common version of this, and is when the nerve becomes pinched in the wrist. The median nerve that extends from your arm to your thumb passes through an area in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, and when there is excess pressure on the wrist it can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Can a pinched nerve become a more serious problem?
Often pinched nerves will heal without any additional issues, but depending on the location and severity it could develop into a more serious problem. Chronic pain isn’t unusual when it comes to pinched nerves, and symptoms may progress without treatment or addressing the underlying causes. Lower back pinched nerves can cause numbness in the legs and if the damage becomes bad enough can lead to paralysis. The neck can have a similar effect on the arms and hands, and if permanent nerve damage happens it will be impossible to reverse. It’s best to get the consultation of a medical professional when it comes to possible nerve pain.
Pinched nerve healing signs
The outlook for pinched nerves is very good, even when medical or surgical treatment is needed. Home remedies such as ice and heat packs, altering activities that compress the nerve, stretching and physical therapy, and over the counter medicine can have a positive effect on the condition and clear it up within a few weeks. Symptoms will start to go away as your pinched nerve heals, and your pain and discomfort should subside. After a pinched nerve heals you should avoid any of the activities that could have possibly contributed to the cause or change the way it’s done such as through the use of ergonomic devices.
Treatment for a Pinched Nerve
In the case that at home treatment isn’t effective and the symptoms persist over a few days there may be reason for medical intervention. A doctor specializing in nerve treatment can help diagnose the severity of the pinched nerve, and if there are any other conditions or factors contributing to your symptoms. Neurosurgeons are specialist doctors who can provide treatment plans and operations dealing with nerves. When the pinched nerve is in a severe state surgery might be considered, or a pain management injection at the problematic area. There are many minimally invasive procedures that are highly effective at treating pinched nerves such as laser surgery for herniated discs. Talking to a doctor about your options is an important step when dealing with a pinched nerve, and in the process of recovery.