A pinched nerve is the term for pain or impaired function of a nerve that is under pressure. It happens to nerves that control muscle movements or relay sensations to the brain.
The initial symptoms of a pinched nerve may be tingling, numbness, burning sensation or shooting pains down the buttocks and legs or in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers.
Sometimes the pains and sensations are distant from the point of pressure. For instance, a pinched nerve in the low back may cause pain in the calf as the only symptom. When there is nerve damage from constant pressure, pain and weakness may increase. There may be a loss of reflexes, movement skills, sensation in the affected area, and withering (atrophy) of the affected muscles.
Nerves are extensions from the brain that reach out into the arms or legs to go to the muscles or skin. A nerve is a cell that is microscopic in size, and its fibers may run several feet in length toward its destination. A nerve cell that lives in the brain or within the spinal cord is called a central nerve, and nerves that leave the spine to go into the arms or legs are called peripheral nerves. These peripheral nerves are actually bundles of millions of nerve fibers that leave the spinal cord and branch out to their target muscles to make them move. These nerve fibers also go to the skin to provide feeling.
If a nerve gets “pinched” the flow up and down the inside of the hose is reduced or blocked and the nutrients stop flowing. Eventually the membrane starts to lose its healthy ability to transmit the tiny electrical charges and the nerve fiber may eventually die. When enough fibers stop working, the skin may feel numb or a muscle may not contract.
It is important to note that you can decrease your risk factors for developing a pinched nerve through simple precautionary measures. You can either choose to avoid activities that commonly lead to a pinched nerve or you can learn what steps to take to limit your chances of being injured.