Pins and needles, tingling, pain, numbness and muscle weakness- Just do not sound fun. These are some things you may feel if you suffer from a case of pinched nerves. Wait! What? Nobody pinched anybody’s nerves? But that’s exactly what they are! Pinched nerves are nerves that have been compressed or put under pressure. Usually a bone, cartilage, ligament or a muscle near the nerve is responsible for this ‘pinching’.
Why do these create so much discomfort? – Because nerves are the body’s network of signals. They convey to your brain things that are hot, cold, painful etc. They also make your muscles move and function properly. When this network of signals gets jammed, a lot can go wrong! So, what causes these pinched nerves? Let’s take a look.
1. Bad Body Posture: Poor posture over a period of time can tighten your muscles and stiffen your joints. This can pinch the nerves. The 3 main aspects of posture to consider are sitting, standing and lifting. Sitting for long amounts of time compresses the spinal discs. Also we tend to slouch, and this could overstretch the muscles in your neck and back. Standing improperly can stress the spine. Good posture is when you put the least amount of strain on your muscles. When lifting heavy objects, use your thigh and leg muscles as opposed to your back muscles. This will protect you from pinched nerves.
2. Weight Gain: Excessive weight gain can weaken ligaments and cause a shift in posture. Ligaments are the cushioning between bones. Weak ligaments combined with this shift in posture could lead to pinched nerves. People who suffer from diseases that lead to weight-gain such as diabetes and hypothyroidism are at a greater risk of developing pinched nerves. Water retention and loosening of the ligaments associated with pregnancy can also lead to pinched nerves.
3. Age Related Spinal Degeneration: With age, our spines slowly begin to deteriorate. Regular wear and tear creates conditions which increase the chances of pinched nerves occurring. Some of these conditions include:
a. Degenerative Disc Disease: This occurs when the spinal discs begin to lose their water content and elasticity. As a result conditions such as a herniated disc or bulging disc can occur, which place pressure on the nerves.
b. Osteoarthritis: This is a common degenerative joint disease. It occurs when the cartilage between bones begins to break down. This makes the bones rub against each other causing them to change shape and creating bone spurs. Spinal osteoarthritis can cause Spinal Stenosis.
4. Injury: Any kind of trauma to the body could result in pinched nerves. The most common form of trauma associated with nerve damage is physical injury. This can result from motor accidents, falls by slipping and sports related injuries. When a bone is broken or dislocated, it could put pressure on the nerves. In some cases the muscles and ligaments may swell, constricting the pathway of the nerves. Compression can also damage nerve fibers and restrict their supply of Oxygen.
5. Repetitive Strain Injury: A common occupational hazard, repetitive strain injury or RSI occurs when a particular movement is done repeatedly causing injury in the long run. RSI can affect muscles, tendons, joints and nerves.
For people who spend their day in front of a computer, the nerves in the upper body are at greater risk of being pinched. These nerves run from the neck right to the fingers. Often due to a stiff posture, the muscles in these areas stiffen. When this happens and the person continues to use these tightened nerves repeatedly soreness and inflammation occurs.
Sports people who perform actions repeatedly such as those in racquet, track and field, gymnastics and weight lifting are also susceptible to RSI leading to pinched nerves. It also affects those who work in assembly line productions.
6. Stiffness: Holding your body in one position for too long can lead to pinched nerves. This could be due to prolonged bed rest or even sleeping in an awkward position. E.g.- Bending your elbows while sleeping.
Sometimes the pain from a pinched nerve will go away quite easily. You could try a few home remedies for instant relief. To begin with, consider changing your posture for a while. Avoid going back into the painful posture until you are sure you’ve recovered. Sleep and rest help cure pinched nerves. Sleep is when your body repairs itself and rest prevents you from over using the affected part of your body. If you need do repetitive motions, consider wearing a support for the stressed part. There are also a number of ergonomic products on our website to choose from.
Home remedies are only a temporary solution. Pinched nerves can be extremely serious. They could lead to bowel and bladder problems, weakness for simple tasks such as holding a cup or even difficulty in using your limbs. If your symptoms are getting worse, see a doctor immediately.
We at Spinalogy Clinic can help diagnose and treat your pinched nerve. Whether it is actually a pinched nerve or a symptom of something bigger, we can help you with it.
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