A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve has been damaged in some way either by direct pressure or a compression of the nerve. This injury causes the nerve to become unable to function normally. Such injuries are caused in many ways depending on the location of the nerve, since nerves are distributed throughout the entire body. Picture your nerves working like a water hose, if your hose gets twisted or kinked the water will no longer run. If a nerve gets “pinched” it would be like putting a kink in your hose causing the flow up and down the inside of the hose to be reduced or blocked and the nutrients stop flowing.
One of the most recognizable symptoms that you may have a pinched nerve is pain. Back, neck and even chest pain could all be caused by a pinched nerve. It is usually a shooting pain, but others have also described it as a burning sensation. When the pinched nerve comes from the spinal cord, you will often find that coughing or sneezing can aggravate the pain. You may be noticing numbness or a pin and needles feeling. This is also commonly associated with a pinched nerve. You will notice the same feeling as if your foot has fallen asleep from sitting on it and causing momentary compression to the nerve.
Another very common symptom associated with a pinched nerve is decreased range of motion and mobility in the affected area. If the pain you are feeling is in the back or chest then the pinched nerve will be somewhere in the upper or middle spine. A pinched nerve in this region could be caused by a muscle spasm, bone spur or even a herniated disc. Muscle spasms in the back commonly accompany pinched nerves and can be very painful and cause weakness in the arms or legs. A pinched nerve located in the lower back usually will trigger a radiating pain down the leg. Feeling a weakness or numbness in your extremities without the accompaniment of pain could also be a sign that you have a pinched nerve.
Even though a sudden accident like a slip or fall could cause a pinched nerve, it is important to note that you can decrease your risk factors for developing a pinched nerve through simple precautionary measures. Activities that are very repetitive can often put you at risk for pinched nerves. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or a pinched nerve in the wrist is commonly seen in people who do a lot of computer work or the repetitive motion of scanning items at the store. Since the pain is caused by the nerve being pinched or strained trying to relax may help you feel some comfort. A hot shower, heat compresses or treating yourself to a massage can often give some temporary relief. Neck rolls and other simple range of motion exercises can also be beneficial. As you stretch the affected area, your body will release endorphins in response to the movement.