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What Is A Pinched Nerve?

What Is A Trapped Nerve?

Nerve tissue is one of the most sensitive tissue in the body. If nerves get irritated by surrounding tissues like joints, muscles or discs, this nerve can become painful causing referred pain and is often called a “trapped nerve” or a “pinched nerve”.

Where Can Nerves Get Pinched?

Nerves most commonly get irritated / pinched in the spine around the neck, and the lower back (the upper back too- but this is less common).

Other common places for pinched / irritated nerves are at the elbow (ulna nerve neuritis), the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), the shin (compartment syndrome) and foot (morton’s neuroma), but there are many other places where nerves get trapped.

“Sciatica” is an example of nerve irritation in the lower back which causes pain to run down or shoot down the leg.

Sciatica often occurs only on one side and may or may not radiate below the knee. Sciatica can present with back pain, but on occasion can simply be pain or pins and needles in the leg. Symptoms can be experienced into the buttock and back of the thigh, into the knee and calf or even as far down as the foot.

How Do I Know If I Have A Pinched Nerve?

What Are The Symptoms Of A Trapped Nerve?

  • Referred pain / tingling / numbness / change of sensation along the nerve distribution (in the leg or arm for example).
  • Weakness in muscles that are supplied by the trapped nerve.
  • Often a radiating / shooting / referred pain- on the side of the nerve irritation.
  • Along with radiating / referred pain- there is usually pain at the site of the nerve irritation (eg. pain in the neck – with the referred pain down the arm).
  • Usually certain movements or activities will aggravate the symptoms- which may indicate a mechanical type problem.
  • Usually certain movements help provide relief- another indication that the problem may be mechanical.
Grace Helping Relieve Sciatica By Loosening Muscle Tightness In The Lower Back

When Should I Seek Professional Medical Help For A Trapped Nerve?

  • If you need help with pain relief.
  • If you have difficulty with mobility as a result of the trapped nerve.
  • If you are struggling to sleep because of the pain.
  • If you have loss of sensation in an area of the body.
  • If you have a sudden loss of power / strength.
  • If you have loss of normal bodily function (or significant impairment) – eg your site is suddenly affected or you are unable to empty your bladder.
  • If you would like help to recover more rapidly.
  • If you want to do as much as you can to help yourself.
  • If you want to prevent the problem from recurring once it has resolved.

Should I Go To A&E About A Trapped Nerve?

Most trapped nerves or pinched nerves are very painful- luckily they are not usually very serious.

In rare circumstances there is a need to attend A&E as an emergency. If one experiences new onset of any of the following symptoms- one should attend A&E as an emergency:

  • Extreme pain that you are unable to control.
  • Loss of feeling / pins and needles between your inner thighs or genitals.
  • Sudden loss of mobility.
  • Sudden loss of bodily functions.
  • Numbness in and around your back passage or buttocks
  • Altered feeling when using toilet paper to wipe yourself
  • Increasing difficulty when you try to urinate
  • Increasing difficulty when your try to stop or control your flow of urine
  • Loss of sensation when you pass urine
  • Leaking urine, or a recent need to use pads
  • Not knowing when your bladder is either full or empty
  • Inability to stop bowel movement or leaking
  • Loss of sensation when you pass a bowel motion
  • Change in ability to achieve and erection or ejaculate
  • Loss of sensation in genitals during sexual intercourse

Luckily these symptoms are extremely rare.

Katy Helping To Relieve Pressure From The Neck

How Can Physiotherapy Help My Trapped Nerve?

  • First accurate examination and diagnosis of the problem to identify the source and severity of the problem.
  • Hands on treatment to relieve muscle spasm and pain to relieve pressure on the nerve.
  • Mobilisation of the spine to restore movement and to seek to decompress the nerve.
  • Mobilisations of the nerves- often called “flossing the nerve” to decompress the nerve.
  • Acupuncture for pain relief and to reduce muscle spasm.
  • Neural “flossing’ techniques to release the irritated nerve.
  • Exercises to relieve pain, reduce stiffness and regain mobility.
  • Strengthening to improve the body’s natural support structures around the pinched nerve area
  • Much more…

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BOOST PHYSIO works with major insurance companies like: BUPA, AVIVA, WPA, CIGNA and Simplyhealth. We usually deal directly with your insurance company.