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Posted on 05-01-2014
"Do I Really Have a Pinched Nerve"?
The simple answer is probably not. So why does the doctor tell you that you may have a Pinched Nerve in your neck or in your back? The correct answer isn’t a simple one.
BACKGROUND: An accurate example of a nerve getting pinched would be striking our elbow and hitting our “funny bone”. Truth is, it's not the bone we are striking, but a nerve that goes into our forearm called the Ulnar Nerve. This nerve travels through the groove on the inside of our elbow and goes to the little finger side of our hand. You may have noticed that your fourth and fifth fingers contract when you hit the funny bone and also, that you got an electric current type of feeling, as well. This is typical for what happens when you really do pinch or strike an actual nerve.
The Ulnar Nerve is a branch off of some larger nerve trunks that exit out of the spine. If a nerve were to actually get pinched at the spine, one would experience the above listed feelings as well as other areas of discomfort. For example, you may have heard that a football player got a “stinger” after hitting their head with pain shooting down into their arms and perhaps down their spine. These types of injuries are rare.
So, what is actually happening when we have been told by the doctor we have a “Pinched Nerve”?
The sharp pain that we experience in our neck or elsewhere along the spine is actually joint pain. Pain fibers are located throughout our bodies and our joints are filled with millions of them. The pain fibers are laid down in a mesh type of manner. The synovium, which makes the synovial fluid to lubricate our joints is highly innervated with pain type nerve fibers and is a structure that is laid along the walls of the joint capsule. If the synovium gets compressed, it will hurt a lot and give the feeling of a “pinched nerve”.
CAUSES: Joint pain arises out of improperly functioning joints. This can be caused from old or new injuries. If someone “sleeps wrong” such as sleeping on their stomach with their head wrenched to the side, it can cause the joint to pinch. Bending or lifting improperly, turning over in bed, getting in/out of a car, coughing too hard, sneezing, etc. can all be sources causing joint pain. Trauma such as a motor vehicle collision, falling out of a tree, falling off a chair, slipping on the sidewalk, etc. can also be the cause of a “pinched nerve”.
TREATMENT: Medical doctors usually prescribe a NSAID, muscle relaxer and/or a pain medication. These can relieve the symptoms, but don’t actually correct the problem.
As a chiropractor, we use our hands to restore proper function to the joint to prevent the pinching of the joint. Chiropractic adjustments and using ice over the affected area usually take care of the majority of these “Pinched Nerves”.
If you or someone you know may have a “Pinched Nerve”, please call us a 252-441-1585 for an appointment and evaluation.
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While vacationing in the Outer Banks, I unfortunately threw my lower back out. The staff was kind and compassionate on every visit. A very special thanks to Dr. Hargraves! I was able to enjoy my vacation.
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