Your nervous system works as an organized command network in your body, carrying messages from the command center—the brain—to the rest of your body. Your nerves are like delicate yet powerful fibers, relaying important information to all parts of your body at all times. They are surrounded by a variety of tissues such as your bones, cartilage, and muscles. When too much pressure is applied to those surrounding tissues, it can compress and block your nerves or neural pathways. This is called a pinched nerve. Chiropractors can use careful adjustments to surrounding tissues to successfully release a pinched nerve.
What Causes Pinched Nerves?
Simply put, any type of pressure that is applied to tissues that surround a nerve can cause a pinched nerve situation, especially if it is strong and recurrent. When the pressure is too much, it disrupts the proper functioning of the nerve. While it is possible to have a pinched nerve all over your body, some sites that naturally tolerate regular pressures and compressions have a higher tendency to get pinched nerves.
The neck, upper-middle back, and lower back tend to get pinched nerves often due to bad posture. Hands, elbows, and wrists are also increasingly becoming common sites for pinched nerves because many people tend to use computer keyboards for prolonged periods of time, with their wrists and arms pressed down on hard surfaces. Apart from bad posture issues in day-to-day life, there are other causes for pinched nerves such as certain types of physical injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, and even the general stress from repetitive work.
It is important to know that the body is able to manage low to moderate nerve compressions without any serious damage. However, if the pressure continues to pinch the nerve and it does not get relieved or treated soon, it can lead to lasting nerve damage, chronic pain, and even the need for surgeries.
How to Recognize When You Have a Pinched Nerve?
Signs and symptoms when it comes to a pinched nerve are hard to miss, but they should be attended to quickly in order to release and treat them before they turn into long-term nerve damage. A common symptom of a pinched nerve is numbness or a decrease of sensation in the area around the nerve that is being compressed. It is often coupled with a burning pain that feels as if it is shooting upward. Some patients explain it as a pins and needles sensation that tingles or prickles similar to when you quickly recover from the numbness of legs or arms due to holding an uncomfortable posture for an extended time. You may also lose control of the muscles in that area and feel a certain weakness. If these symptoms tend to last for several days, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible.
There are several recognized factors that may increase your risk of getting a pinched nerve as well. For example, women are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome—a condition that occurs due to the pressure on a nerve in your wrist. This is likely because women have relatively smaller carpal tunnels. Other risk factors include a history of bone spurs, which can narrow the space where the nerves are located, which can easily lead to pinched nerves with small pressure. Another risk factor is thyroid disease, which has been observed to cause a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome in particular.
How Chiropractic Adjustments Help Treat Pinched Nerves
With proper chiropractic care, it is possible to treat a pinched nerve without having to opt for invasive surgical procedures. Many pinched nerve situations occur due to compressed ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or muscle tissue that surround the nerves. They can be properly realigned by a trained chiropractor in order to release the pinched nerve. It is a manual therapy with high success rates, especially if you see your chiropractor when you first start seeing and experiencing the symptoms of a pinched nerve.
A trained chiropractor has a thorough understanding of your musculoskeletal system. They will closely study the way your muscles and other tissues have aligned to add pressure to the nerve, and gently realign them to release the pressure without any need for surgery. There will be a physical examination of the area that is showing signs of a pinched nerve, and they may take several imaging tests to make sure of the exact problem as well. Once they identify the stress factors and how exactly the nerve is being compressed, they may do a series of manual adjustments. These adjustments are gentle and strategic, helping your body do the healing rather than forcing it with any invasive procedures.
While a qualified chiropractor is able to relieve you of pain and release a pinched nerve with proper alignments, it is always good to know how to prevent a pinched nerve from happening. First and foremost, maintaining good posture is key. When you have poor posture, your spine and other areas of your body are positioned unnaturally, which causes compressions or too much pressure on certain muscles and other tissue. This is one of the biggest causes of pinched nerves, especially on your neck and back, which are two of the most common areas to get pinched nerve issues.
Another good way to prevent a pinched nerve is to improve your flexibility by practicing both strength and flexibility exercises. It will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is an important factor in preventing a variety of nerve and tissue-related problems. If you ever have to sit down, lie, or cross your legs for prolonged periods of time, move your position frequently so you will not put too much pressure on the tissues surrounding your nerves. However, it is possible to get pinched nerve problems even with many preventive measures in place. If that happens, make sure you call your local chiropractor for a consultation and a proper alignment to release the nerves.