The “pinched nerve,“ is a ubiquitous blanket term; what exactly does it mean?
Very broadly, a pinched nerve happens when a given nerve is put under too much pressure by the surrounding bones, muscles and tendons. The pressure causes interference in nervous system signaling which translates to pain, numbness, tingling sensations and weakness. The nerve causes pain during movement, limiting range of motion; it can also cause radicular pain In which the actual discomfort is experienced somewhere other than the nerve which is pressurized. The scientific term radiculopathy is used to describe injury or simply irritation to a nerve which causes pain and contributes to dysfunction in the body.
Different types of radiculopathy
- Cervical: pinched nerves in the neck are characterized by pain tingling, numbness and weakness, that radiate: symptoms can be experienced in the local area, extremities, throughout the upper body; it can even manifest itself in the form of severe tension headaches.
- Thoracic: while this the least common, a pinched nerve in the thoracic vertebrae tends to severely restrict range of motion as the thoracic segment is primarily responsible for flexion, extension and rotation of the upper body.
- Lumbar: the most common place for radiculopathy to occur, as the lower back is responsible for supporting the weight of the upper body and stabilizing movement. Most commonly associated with herniated discs, lumbar radiculopathy is a frequent cause of disability in the workplace.
- Sciatica: refers to impingement on the sciatic nerve from a number of causes. This is the longest nerve in the body, and causes pain, numbness, tingling and weakness to radiate down into the legs.
Chiropractic’s role in treating pinched nerves
Our first role is in preventing them. Maintaining good spinal alignment is the number one way to prevent pinched nerves from occuring. Gentle spinal adjustments alleviate nerve impingmenet before they become problematic, allowing for increased function and range of motion in the spinal joints. If you are in the grips of nerve pain, decompression modalities gently stretch the spine while providing low-force adjustments that help to reverse intradiscal pressure and encourage blood flow to an area in need of healing. If you are interested in our natural methods for treating pinched nerves, give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today.