The Anatomy of a Pinched Nerve | Upper Cervical Chiropractor in Mount Dora, FL
Welcome back. I’m Dr. Todd here at Mount Dora Family Chiropractic. Today we’re talking about the anatomy of a pinched nerve, primarily as it relates to the neck. This can range from mild to completely debilitating depending on the degree and severity of the pinched nerve.
Causes of Pinched Nerves
Let’s start at the beginning, what is a pinched nerve? So let’s just start with what a normal healthy spine should look like. This would be looking at the spine from the front and it should be nice and straight. When we look at your spine from the side, we should have these nice smooth flowing curve, three of them, and they are subtle just like that. Now, the first thing that will typically happen that’ll precipitate a pinched nerve is what’s called a subluxation. This is going to happen from either macro trauma like car accidents, sports injuries, falls, things like that. More common today is the micro trauma which is through repetitive strain injuries, postural injuries, like sitting at a computer for eight hours a day, staring down at your phone, things like that. So over time, these traumas are going to cause us to lose the normal curve of our spine. Because we’re not generally taught to take care of it, it’ll catch up to us.
What Is A Subluxation
So when we have a subluxation, that’s a fancy word for misalignment, what’s going to happen is we create compensation and muscle spasms are going to happen to try to deal with that misalignment. So this is going to create altered biomechanics and cause more symptoms. It’s kind of like a car tire out of alignment to use a simple analogy, which is going to irritate the joints. So on a long enough timeline, it’s going to actually cause the joints and the disc to degenerate, causing biomechanical issue over time. So when that happens, once you have this irritation and degeneration, you’re gonna have inflammation. So you’re gonna see some inflammation around that joint which can certainly irritate the nerves as they come out of those openings there.
The Nervous System
Alright, let me give you a better view of what that looks like. So if we take a section of spine here, you’ve got the vertebrae, okay, the discs are these guys in between. Now, a lot of people think discs are shock absorbers when they’re really meant to be spacers. They’re creating a space for that nerve to exit, right? Well, the disc is necessary to create the space for the nerve. And by the way, what are those nerves doing? Everything! You live your life through your nervous system, this is your brain communicating to every organ, tissue, and cell in your body through your nerves, alright? The good news is only about 15% of your nerve fibers actually feel pain. So if you’re sitting there watching this, and you’re in pain, you’re thinking, man, it feels like I feel everything. Well, 85% of your nerves are motor function like all your organs, and you got your autonomic nerves, which are like beating your heart and digesting your food etc. So we have different kinds of nerves, but the least of which is the sensory nerves, which you feel pain and temperature through. So again, another issue that can happen is through trauma and repetitive strain you can damage the disc, and that’s where you get that bolt.
Herniated Discs Causing Nerve Pain
So using this little example here, you can see that disc bulge out there and it’s putting pressure on that nerve. Okay, and that’s when you hear people talk about a herniated disc, and that’s what happens. It can put pressure directly on the nerve or entrap the nerve that can be quite severe and significant. But more often than not, we find that there’s simply damage and inflammation and that inflammation is irritating the nerve putting pressure around the area. Generally, you can just have numbness on pins and needles type of feelings. So when you talk about pinched nerves in the lower back, you’re thinking sciatica type symptoms of pain down in the buttock and in the leg which can be quite excruciating.
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