Understanding Nerve Compression
Having nerve conditions such as nerve compression can alter our entire body function. It is important that we educate ourselves on these conditions in order to understand why it is necessary to seek immediate remedy before it gets worse.
What is a nerve?
A nerve is a group of long, thin fibers that carry information or instructions between the brain and the other parts of the body. You can think of it as a very complicated and detailed wiring system that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. Some nerves relay messages from the brain to the muscles making it possible for us to move; other nerves carry messages of sensations experienced by the body to the brain.
Symptoms of Nerve Conditions
There are two physical parts that consists the nervous system. The central nervous system which include the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system that transmits sensory messages from the body to the brain. Nerve conditions mostly come from the peripheral nervous system and happen when these vital connections are disrupted. Here are some signs and symptoms of having nerve conditions:
- burning feeling
- loss of balance
- altered smell or taste
- prickling sensation
- muscle weakness
When a nerve in the neck is compressed, it is called a “pinched nerve” or in medical terms, “cervical radiculopathy.” This disorder can cause shoulder pains and numbness of hand and arm muscles.
A pinched nerve is sometimes the result of the changes and damages that appear in the spine when we age like Arthritis for instance. However in younger people, most causes of a pinched nerve come from unexpected injuries that could result into a herniated disk. Prescription and therapy is a common way to treat this disorder.
Intervertebral disks are located between the backbones. When a person walks or runs, these disks function as shock absorbers. There are two components that make up these disks – Annulus fibrosus and Nucleus pulposus.
- Annulus fibrosus – the tough, flexible outer ring of the disk.
- Nucleus pulposus - the soft, jelly-like center of the disk.
When a nerve is pressed it is called a nerve compression and usually takes place in one location only. The common areas affected are the torso, limbs and extremities such as nerve endings. Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or hypothyroidism can also cause nerve compression.
Nerve compression syndrome can also be called as:
- nerve entrapment syndrome
- compression neuropathy
- entrapment neuropathy
- trapped nerve
Symptoms of nerve compression
Numbness is often caused by injuries to some sensory nerves.
Weakness is caused by an injury to nerves that carry motor signals.
Pain is a common symptom when there is a nerve injury.
Mild injuries to the nerve cause the signals between the body and brain to change. Usually these injuries need surgery.
Broken nerve fibers or more severe injuries can cause the signals between the body and brain to stop until the nerves eventually grow back which usually takes months to occur. These injuries also commonly need surgery.
Cut nerve is when the outer wrap and inner fibers of the nerve are cut. These need to be sewn back so surgery could be necessary.
Nerve Injuries, American Society for Surgery of the Hand; last accessed 4/10/2020
Nerve Compression Syndrome, Healthline; last accessed 4/10/2020
Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve), OrthoInfo; last accessed 4/10/2020