What is a trapped nerve?
Trapped nerve describes one type of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves.
Nerves are important for carrying signals to and from the brain, for example to make limbs move and to use senses, like touch.
The injury may result from compression, restriction, or stretching. Symptoms include numbness, “pins and needles” or burning sensations, and pain radiating into the limb from the injured area.
One of the most common examples of a compressed nerve is the feeling of having a foot or hand “fall asleep”.
Weakness of the muscles along the path of the nerve may be felt.
Causes of a trapped nerve.
A trapped nerve in the neck or lower back can be caused by a herniated disc, arthritis, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis.
A trapped nerve in the wrist can be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Swelling around a nerve can be caused by an injury, bruise or other conditions, including the swelling of the extremities that can occur with pregnancy. An inherited tendency, from a family history of a similar condition, can also increase an individual’s chance of developing a pinched nerve.
Early diagnosis is important to prevent further damage or complications. Pinched nerve is a common cause of work-related injuries.
How is a trapped nerve diagnosed?
A professional will ask you about symptoms, medical history and carry out a physical examination.
If a pinched nerve is suspected then more investigations may be nessassry. X-rays, CT, or MRI scan may be indicated.
Treatment for a pinched nerve.
In many cases a trapped nerve can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory drugs and ice around the affected area.
In many cases manual therapy may be very help full as the spine may “lock” and trap a nerve in either the leg or arm.
Gentle treatment, massage, manipulation can all help release the nerve and so help the pain.
Other areas of the body may need to be treated as these can sometimes put the spine at greater risk of injury. This may include previous injuries, stress or repetitive strain such as work and sports.
Rehabilitation and expert advice is also essential.