What is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve occurs when the nerve gets caught between two hard substances like a disc or bone in the back.
There are billions of nerves in the human body that run between the brain and body every second of the day. These nerves travel through the spinal cord. The spine also has bones, discs, and cartilage that surround the nerves. Nerves hold precious messages for the body so if the nerve is pinched this can be extremely painful to the upper, middle or lower back.
Keep in mind that nerves carry pain signals even in a healthy spinal cord. A pinched nerve becomes a chronic back pain condition when the nerve is compressed in a painful position between the surrounding bone or discs. Nerves are always traveling through the body, and pinched nerves cause nagging chronic back pain until the compressed nerve is finally released.
What Causes a Pinched Nerve?
The most common causes of a pinched nerve are:
- A herniated disc
- Repetitive motions that strain the back and spine
- Swelling that pushes against the spinal cord
- Holding the body in the same pose for long periods of time
Signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve
Common symptoms of a pinched nerve are:
- Weak back muscles
- Numbness or tingling
- Tightness or a pinching under the skin
- Sharp burning pain in a specific part of the back
A pinched nerve is literally stuck in an area of the backbone. The nerve will continue to hurt with agonizing back pain. This chronic back pain can even disable patients, but it is there to let them know that there is a problem in the body. Pay attention to warning signs and messages that the body may show.
Pinched nerve treatment options
The pinched nerve is stuck in an uncomfortable position so it is important to not overuse the back muscles and spine. The main goal of any pinched nerve treatment is for the nerve to break free of its pinched placement. Resting and sleeping flat on your back will help ease the chronic back pain from a pinched nerve. At home, there are other ways to disguise chronic back pain while the nerve is pinched, such as:
- Getting full rest and sleep
- Massaging the back
- Wearing a back brace or splint
- Using an ice pack for the back
- Resting with a heating pad on the back
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs
If the nerve pain or chronic back pain continues for more than a few weeks, patients should look for further treatment and assistance. The pinched nerve may not be able to release itself without additional treatment. A pinched nerve causes chronic back pain so if this condition continues for weeks or months, it can have a disabling effect on patients.