Pinched nerves stretch across the country. Three to five percent of Americans pinch a nerve in their back. This only accounts for a small number of cases, as pinched nerves can occur elsewhere.
Pinching a nerve is extremely unpleasant. You should understand how to heal a pinched nerve so you avoid incredible pain.
What exactly is a pinched nerve? How long does a pinched nerve last, and what can you do to treat yourself? What are some advanced options you can look for if you suffer from long-lasting discomfort?
Answer these questions and you can keep your nerves healthy and functioning throughout your life. Here is your quick guide.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
Nerves snake through the human body. They come close to bones, cartilage, and tendons, making them vulnerable to pinching.
It is okay if your nerves have a little pressure against them. When too much pressure is applied, your nerve can become pinched.
Any nerve anywhere in the body can become pinched. The most common pinched nerves are in the back, wrists, and shoulders.
What Distinguishes a Pinched Nerve From Other Conditions?
Many people confuse a pinched nerve with a muscle strain or sprain. A muscle strain occurs when a muscle becomes overstretched. A sprain occurs when a ligament that connects two joints together becomes torn.
The symptoms of pinched nerves, strains, and sprains are similar to each other. All three can cause numbness, sharp pain, and muscle weakness.
But the pain from a pinched nerve tends to radiate out. Feelings of pain can travel along an entire limb or section of the body, unlike with a strain. If you pinch a nerve in your hand or foot, you may feel like it has fallen asleep.
Pain may also last while you are sleeping. The pressure of your body may be pressing on your injured nerve even more. This is unlike strains and sprains, which can get better during sleep.
How Can You Prevent a Pinched Nerve?
Many people sustain pinched nerves due to injuries. Wear padding and thick clothing to minimize your nerve damage during exercise.
But many people pinch their nerves through repetitive movements. Try to stretch your hands while you are typing or writing for a long period of time. Wear splints so you keep your hands in a neutral position without applying too much pressure.
Sliding disks in your back can also pinch on your nerves. Do not sit for long periods of time, and stand up and stretch your back when you are doing desk work. If you must sit, sit upright with firm support so you don’t slouch over.
If you suffer from arthritis or joint swelling, follow your doctor’s recommendations. You are at increased risk for pinching a nerve.
How Long Does a Pinched Nerve Last?
How long a pinched nerve lasts depends on several factors. If whatever is causing pressure on the nerve is still applying pressure, the pain will not go away. If the nerve is in a part of the body that you rely on, you will continue to experience symptoms.
In general, a pinched nerve that comes from an injury or bad posture will last for a few days. Pinched nerves that come from conditions like arthritis can last for weeks.
What Is Pinched Nerve Treatment Like?
You can treat most of your pinched nerves by yourself. Once you notice symptoms, relieve pressure on the area right away. Change the position of your body so a surface does not compress your nerve again.
Rest the area where you are injured. If you suffer from multiple pinched nerves or other problems like muscle strains, you should rest your entire body. Try to get a little extra sleep and place your injured areas on pillows for support.
Get some ice packs and heating pads and apply each of them to the area. Use each of them for 15 minutes in a session. Do not use both at once, and take a break between using them.
You can take pain medications to relieve your pain and numbness. Take nonsteroids and anti-inflammatory pills instead of opioids and painkillers.
Perform some light stretches, even if it induces a little pain. You want your blood to flow to the area and you want signals to pass through your nerves.
What Are Some Advanced Treatment Options?
Get help from your doctor if you encounter symptoms over a long period of time. If your nerve remains pinched, you may suffer from permanent damage.
Physical therapy can involve several different methods. You may need to wear a collar around the affected area, allowing your muscles to relax. Massages can relieve tension around a pinched nerve.
Cold laser therapy uses low levels of light to induce a reaction inside damaged cells. The body then heals the damaged cells, healing the pinched nerve in the process.
Surgery is a last resort, reserved for patients who are losing control of a limb or organ. If your doctor recommends surgery, you should cooperate. This treatment may be the only thing that can stop permanent damage.
What You Should Know About Pinched Nerves
People have a lot of questions about pinched nerves. What are they? They are nerves that another body tissue presses against.
How long does a pinched nerve last? It depends on where the nerve is, what is causing the pinch, and whether a person is resting.
How can you receive treatment? The best thing you can do is rest the injured area and perform a few stretches to strengthen your muscles. Go to your doctor if you need therapy or surgery.
Employ whatever methods you can to improve your nerve health. Find out more by following our coverage.
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