We’ve all heard a friend or co-worker talk about sleeping wrong and “pinching” a nerve in their neck. Can you really do this, or is it something else?
You can pinch a nerve. The human body has nerves extending from the brain and spinal cord outward. Those beyond the brain and spinal cord are known as peripheral nerves. A “pinched nerve” is the name given to the uncomfortable sensation, pain, or numbness caused when pressure leads to irritation or damage to a peripheral nerve. Just about any nerve in the body is susceptible to pinching, but it is most often associated with back or neck pain.
Basically, a pinched nerve is nerve compression and you need to heed the pain. Why? When nerves are compressed, the damage can be temporary but if allowed to continue the damage can become permanent. That’s why you need to call the experts at Coastal Spine if you’re showing signs of a pinched nerve.
What causes a pinched nerve?
Much of the pain associated with our necks and backs comes from situations where we are compressing a nerve or nerves. The pressure may come from repetitive motions, or it can come from holding your body in one position for long periods (such as when your elbows remain bent while sleeping). That’s why people often complain of having pinched a nerve while sleeping.
The nerves that are most vulnerable to compression are those in places where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue around them for protection. Ligaments, tendons, and bone can all create nerve compression.
Disc herniation or bulging discs in the spine can place pressure on the nerve roots that leads to pain in the neck or back, or it can radiate outwards to arms, hand, legs, or the feet.
Weight gain, pregnancy, or water retention can cause pinched nerves.
Repetitive activities such as typing and using certain tools can increase swelling around specific nerves, such as those running through the wrists and elbows.
Feelings of a pinched nerve
Pressure on the nerve can irritate the nerve, its protective myelin sheath, or both. When this happens, the nerve is unable to properly conduct sensory impulses to the brain, leading to a sense of numbness. It can also cause pain or a tingling or prickly sensation. Many people feel as if a body part has “fallen asleep” in early stages of compression, and it passes. But if this inflammation persists, the condition won’t go away and the area will lose sensation. This can lead to permanent nerve damage and loss of function.
If you have numbness or other signs of a pinched nerve or nerve compression, it’s important to call us at Coastal Spine. We can diagnose the problem and get to work relieving or removing the cause of the compression. Call us at (856) 222-4444 to make an appointment. With four locations from Philly over to the coast, we’re not far away from helping with your nerve pain.