brainOur nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and nerves which run through our entire body. These nerves have an invaluable role in allowing our brain to communicate with our body, sending and receiving electrical impulses, which then the brain interprets.

If there is a problem along this neural pathway, a compressed nerve, for example, your brain will get a warning signal and translate into a sensation we register as pain.


Pinched nerve pain can be short-lasting and benign in nature, but it can also cause serious, long-lasting problems, which is why it shouldn`t be taken lightly. In the following paragraphs, we will be talking about the causes, symptoms and most common places in the body it occurs.

Causes

As I`ve said earlier, we can separate pinched nerve pain into two categories: short-term and long-term.

You can generally experience short-term pain if you hold an awkward position for a longer period of time, bang your elbow against the edge of a table and do things of that nature.

Long-term pain is usually caused by a long-term compression on the specific section of the nerve path. Since the nerves are such a sensitive structure, even the slightest anatomical change in their surrounding can affect them and cause pain. Even a small, localized inflammation, followed by a swelling in the ligaments, tendons or muscles can aggravate the nerves, causing pain and discomfort.

Symptoms

First of all I would like to point out that I am not a big fan of self-diagnosis, so I will always advise you to go and see your doctor, rather than looking for an answer online; but I can share with you some common symptoms you should be aware of, and if you start noticing them you should see your doctor.

Those symptoms are:

  • Localized pain
  • Tingling, burning sensation and increased sensitivity
  • Numbness, in more severe cases
  • Weakness in the extremities and difficulty performing everyday tasks

Neck

Pinched nerve in the neck is a very common complaint among people in general. The neck is a very delicate and sensitive area and, unfortunately, many things can go wrong there. Nerves in the neck can be affected by:

Most common symptoms are pain when getting up, intensified pain when moving your neck and head, burning and tingling and referred pain stretching to your arm.

Solution and the only right way to fight this condition is to consult with a physical therapist and devise a plan of action depending on the actual cause of your pain.

I am hesitant to recommend any exercises since there is no way of knowing what is causing your pain, for example if you have a herniated disc, twisting and moving your neck may only cause more damage.

Nerve problems in the backBack

Pinpointing the exact location and cause of a pinched nerve in the back can be a challenging task (especially online) because of the spinal cord which stretches almost along your entire spine.

The symptoms are similar to those we have already mentioned and the treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause of the neural compression.

There are two specific conditions I would like to mention here, and those are sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

Sciatica is a condition where the largest nerve in our body (Sciatic nerve) is pinched somewhere along its way, causing pain, weakness and tingling. You can find out more about it here: Sciatica Pain Relief 

Piriformis syndrome is a specific condition where Piriformis muscle is pressing on the Sciatic nerve. You can find more about it here: Piriformis Syndrome Overview

Arm

According to the location, pinched nerve in the arm can be categorized as:

  1. Shoulder PN – which is commonly caused by poor posture, obesity and repetitive motion. You can relieve pain by applying ice, stretching, exercising and medication. Of course, visiting a physical therapist is a must
  2. Elbow PN – the most common condition affecting the elbow is called a cubital tunnel syndrome. Pain relief usually comes on its own when you avoid the activity which caused the pain in the first place, but you can also take some anti-inflammatory drugs; and in the most severe cases surgery is the only option
  3. Hand PN – which can be caused by arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, various cysts or even diabetes. Depending on the cause of the pain, treatment will vary

The Leg

Pinched nerve in the leg is also fairly common, and it is most common in the hip area. Pain in this particular location can cause some discomfort since the hip joint is constantly in motion. Needless to say, it is necessary to recognize this condition in its early stages so greater damage and more serious conditions may be avoided.


References:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/nerve.htm

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/compressed-nerves

http://voices.yahoo.com/

http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/

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