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Pinched Nerve
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Pinched Nerve

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve is any type of pressure applied to a nerve by the surrounding tissue that causes irritation and disruption the nerve's functioning. A pinched nerve is a common cause of on-the-job injury.

One of the most common examples of a single compressed nerve is the feeling of having a foot or hand fall asleep.

What is a Nerve?

Nerves are extensions from the brain that reach out into the arms or legs to go to the muscles or skin. A nerve is a cell which is microscopic in size, and its fibers may run several feet in length toward its destination. A nerve cell that lives in the brain or within the spinal cord is called a central nerve, and a nerve that leaves the spine to go into the arms or legs are called peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are actually bundles of millions of nerve fibers that leave the spinal cord and branch to their target muscles to make them move or go to the skin to provide feeling.

What Causes a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve can be caused by many different things. Most pinched nerves are caused by compression, constriction, or stretching. A nerve can be pinched as it leaves the spine by a herniated disc or by bone spurs that form from spinal arthritis. Pregnancy, an injury, repetitive motions or joint disease can also cause pinched nerves.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The most common symptoms of a pinched nerve are:

  • numbness
  • "pins and needles" or burning sensations
  • pain radiating outward from the injured area

Complications of a Pinched Nerve

Common complications of pinched nerves are: peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. The extent of such injuries may vary from minor, temporary damage to a more permanent condition. Early diagnosis is important to prevent further damage or complications.

Can a Pinched Nerve be Treated?

Yes. The aim of treatment is to improve the room available for the nerve by either shrinking swollen tissue around the nerve, mobilizing the nerve through scar tissue that may have built up around it from chronic inflammation, or by removing the disc or bone spurs pressing upon it.

A pinched nerve may be treated with medication, physical therapy, cortisone injection or surgery. Corticosteroids help alleviate pain. A splints or collar may be also be used. Your doctor will probably recommended rest for the affected area.

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