Nerves are small cord-like parts of the body that go from the brain to the spine and into the extremities. They send messages to the skin and muscles. These complex messages from the brain to the arms and legs tell the muscles to move or the skin to feel sensations. When a nerve becomes pinched, it can cause a variety of symptoms from pain to tingling and coldness.
A nerve itself is much like a television cable cord. There are many small cords within a large casing. The cords transports messages, or little electrical impulses, to the extremities just like the cable cord brings a picture to the TV. This process has to happen for the nerve to stay healthy.
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If something causes pinched nerves, the nerves become inflamed and can no longer transport messages. The nerve begins to get sick. If it does not regain its ability to transfer, it starts to die. This causes the skin to feel numb and muscles to become weak.
There are numerous causes for pinched nerves. In general, the pinch happens when there is pressure applied to the nerve by tissue surrounding it. This tissue can be bone or cartilage, muscles or tendons, or swelling within tight places of nerve casings.
Some common causes of soft tissue nerve pressure are injury, poor posture, repetitive jobs, sports, and obesity. A number of pregnant women also experience this ailment as their growing uterus places additional pressure on their body. This pressure is quickly remedied after birth.
Hard tissue pressure can come from a herniated disc or bone spurs from spinal arthritis. Carpal tunnel in the hand area is another common example of pinched nerves. Inflammation in the tunneled wrist area pinches the nerves going through the tunnel and into to the hand. The brain stops receiving signals from the hand and numbness is the primary symptom.
Common symptoms of pinched nerves are pain, numbness, tingling, burning, or hot and cold sensations. In the lower back, a pinched nerve is felt as a numbness running down the leg or even as painful muscle spasms. This same sensation can be felt running from the shoulders through the arms in upper body cases.
Pinched nerves can recover without permanent damage if the pressure is alleviated. This can happen through surgery, change in activity, medications like cortisone, and sometimes even through simple application of hot and cold packs. If the pressure is not relieved, there can be permanent nerve damage and chronic pain.