nerve pain

“I think I pinched a nerve.”

We hear that often, but what is it? How should you treat it? Can you still exercise?

Nagging pain, muscle spasms, and even radiating pain are signs of nerve compression, which commonly occur in the neck or low back. Take a look at the structure and function of nerves to get a better understanding.

nerve structure

Nerves root from the spinal cord and branch from vertebral joint spaces called foramen (think small tunnel). Like the roots of a tree, nerve roots continue to branch and spread throughout the body. Nerve roots are responsible for the innervation of muscles, reflexes and sensation at corresponding levels.

What compresses a nerve?

A nerve root can be compressed from conditions such as herniated or bulging discs, facet arthrosis, stenosis, or severe muscle spasms, which can stem from acute traumas or repetitive microtraumas. The most common form of nerve compression is from a herniated or bulging disc. Discs act as shock absorbers but are 80% fluid and are more susceptible to injury with sitting and bending forward, in which case the fluid seeps out into the foramen and irritates the nerve root. When a nerve root is compressed near the low back and pain radiates down the leg, it is a severe case known as sciatica.

bulging disc

What can be done to treat it?

In cases of nerve root compression, the phrase “no pain no gain” does not apply! If you find yourself in the gym working through the pain, you could be further injuring the nerve, delaying the healing process. It’s also important to ask yourself if the stretches you are doing are helpful or harmful. Stick to movements that don’t hurt and seek professional evaluation. Chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy and acupuncture are great conservative therapies that work best in conjunction to reach pain-free ranges of motion and nerve decompression via joint mobility, muscle relaxation, strength and stability.

If you think you may be experiencing nerve pain, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Patel at USA Sports Therapy. New patient information can be found at http://www.usasportstherapy.com/ and her office is located at 20754 W Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33180.