Many of us have experienced the symptoms of a pinched nerve before. Fortunately, for some the symptoms subside with rest. However, for many others, a pinched nerve can affect them for a long time.
Signs of a pinched nerve include numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve; sharp, aching or burning pain; tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation; and the sense that your foot or hand has fallen asleep. If you consistently experience these symptoms, an investigation of whether you have a pinched nerve is important.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness. Often in the personal injury business, we see pinched nerves when a car accident causes a herniated disk in the neck or lower back. Also, a pinched nerve can occur when holding onto the steering wheel at the time of the car accident. This can cause a pinched nerve in your wrist which can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).
The pressure from the herniated disc or compression of the nerve causes inflammation of the nerve and disrupts the nerve’s function. If a nerve is pinched for only a short time, there’s usually no permanent damage. Once the pressure is relieved, nerve function returns to normal. However, if the pressure continues, chronic pain and permanent nerve damage can occur.
Testing for Pinched Nerve
If you symptoms persist, you should certainly talk to your doctor. Waiting could lead to irreversible damage to your nerve. If your doctor suspects a pinched nerve, you may undergo one of these tests:
• Nerve conduction study. This test measures electrical nerve impulses and functioning in your muscles and nerves. A specialist places electrodes on your skin. The study measures the electrical impulses in your nerve signals when a small current passes through the nerve. Test results tell your doctor whether you have a damaged nerve.
• Electromyography. During an EMG, your doctor inserts a needle electrode through your skin into various muscles. The test evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and when they’re at rest. Test results tell your doctor if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed views of your body in multiple planes. This test may show herniated discs and be used if your doctor suspects you have nerve root compression.
Treatment for a Pinched Nerve
The doctor (and common sense) may tell you that initial treatment for a pinched nerve is rest for the affected area. No swinging the bat at baseball practice. No typing if the compression is in the wrist. In addition to rest, chiropractic care and/or physical therapy may provide relief. A good chiropractor or physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve. He or she may also recommend modifications to activities that aggravate the nerve.
Also, medication may benefit in the treatment of a pinched nerve. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve), can help relieve pain and alleviate inflammation around the nerve. However, if rest, chiropractic care, physical therapy and medication do not work, surgery may be needed. If the pinched nerve doesn’t improve after several weeks to a few months with conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to take pressure off the nerve. Surgery may include removing the herniated disc in the spine to minimize the compression of the pinched nerve.
A pinched nerve is nothing to ignore. If you are experiencing numbness or tingling from a car accident or other activity, consult a doctor to determine if there is a pinched nerve. The earlier you act on the problem, the less likely you will have long-term effects from the pinched nerve.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.