For a long time people have believed that the cause of neck and low back pain was due to a ‘pinched nerve.’ This is interesting as a pinched nerve cannot create pain. In fact, a pinched nerve does the opposite, meaning it reduces nerve sensation!
The truth is that it is very difficult to ‘pinch’ a nerve and the body has many safeguards to help ensure that this does not happen. Medically speaking, a pinched nerve exists when there is direct pressure on a nerve. A pinched nerve cannot create pain as the part of the nerve that is distal to the ‘pinched’ area lacks function and sensation. In these cases, the patient experiences paresthesia (tingling or other abnormal sensations) and anesthesia (numbness). A good example of this is to lie on your side, put your arm above your head, and lie on it. Sooner or later your arm will lose sensation. This is an example of ‘pinching’ a nerve. In the rare cases where nerve entrapment does exist, Dr. Vanina is trained in techniques such as Active Release Techniques (ART) to help address this problem.
Although pinched nerves are most likely found in extreme cases such as trauma, muscle entrapments, late stage degenerative disc or other joint diseases, all too often the catchphrase of ‘pinched nerve’ is used to describe musculoskeletal pain.
In cases where there is pain, the culprit is more likely to be irritation of a nerve. This means that trauma to tissues surrounding the nerve have some form of damage that allows for a localized buildup of toxins in the region (the toxins come from the damaged tissues). These toxins proceed to irritate the soft tissue and nerve sheaths. This leads to pain, swelling, dysfunction, and irritation.
In regards to care, most people seek care for pain as opposed to ‘pinched’ nerves. The good news is that chiropractic care can effectively treat both types of problems; the reduction in nerve function which leads to tingling and numbing and also pain due to nerve irritation. Chiropractic care aims to improve the joint mechanics in the area of question so that joint and soft tissue healing can occur. Many times specific soft tissue treatments are necessary as are rehabilitative and stabilization exercises. This is so that the patient can work in conjunction with treatments in the office to help keep their neurological system intact and healthy. It is the doctors’ goal to help eliminate the causative agent of pain or reduced sensation and help you get back to your normal lifestyle.