SO…WHAT REALLY IS A PINCHED NERVE?
We use the term pinched nerve so often but what is really happening? Calling it a pinched nerve is actually a pretty accurate diagnosis. Here are a few pictures from The Atlas of Human Anatomy 4thedition by Frank Netter, MD. As you can see, in the body, nerves travel through tiny nerve tunnels in the muscles.
Nerves also travel between adjacent muscles as you can see in this picture below.
Because the nerves travel through these tiny tunnels and between muscles it leaves very little room for error or the nerve will become compressed. Muscles will press on these nerves if the muscle becomes too tight from overuse, poor posture or injury. If a muscle is injured it will swell, become thicker and can “pinch” the nerve. The correct medical term for a pinched nerve is nerve entrapment however pinched nerve gives a pretty accurate description.
When you have nerve entrapment you can have symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, pain and tightness (loss of range of motion) among a few other possible symptoms.
The best way to release a pinched nerve is to separate the muscle and the nerve so they can slide freely by one another. In our office we specialize in an advanced soft tissue therapy called Active Release Technique (ART) that helps tremendously. With ART, we locate the site of nerve entrapment then move the nerve and muscle away from each other so they can slide freely which “unpinches” the nerve. This technique is so effective that we expect pain relief and improved range of motion after only 1 visit. If you or someone you know needs help un-pinching a nerve give us a call, we would love to get the opportunity to help!
Dr. Todd Rodman, DC, CCSP, CSCS