January 11, 2016

Pinched Nerve

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How To Avoid Expensive Back Pain, Neck Pain And Sciatica Mistakes…
Plus, How You Can Tell If You Have A Pinched Nerve

 

Image of a pinched nerve in the back or neck

The pinched nerve is
the compressed nerve root

A pinched nerve is a common back problem. Different back problems can cause a pinched nerve. Three common causes of a pinched nerve are spinal bone spurs, bulging discs and herniated discs.

Abnormal bone spurs in your low back or in your neck can put pressure on your nerves around the bone spurs causing a pinched nerve. Bone spurs can come from Spinal Arthritis. A common cause of Spinal Arthritis is injury to your spine… such as from falls or from an auto accident. However, the most common cause of Spinal Arthritis is repetitive microinjuries to your spine… such as sitting for a long time, improper posture, incorrect spinal biomechanics when lifting, improper spinal motion… and uncorrected spinal misalignments.

In addition to creating bone spurs, Spinal Arthritis will also create uneven wear and tear on your joint surfaces and cause a loss of proper disc height.

Image of spinal arthritis in the back

Notice the uneven wear and tear on
the spine of this person with Spinal Arthritis.

Bulging discs and herniated discs can also cause a pinched nerve. The discs in your spine are the shock absorbing cartilage that rests between each vertebra of your spine. Think of your spinal disc as a jelly donut. The center of the disc is liquid-like – similar to petroleum jelly. The outer part of your disc… also called the annulus… is tough and strong and circles the center like the rings of a freshly cut oak tree stump.

What makes the outer layer so strong is the type of tissue it’s made up of and, maybe most important, the opposing crisscross pattern of each layer or ring of the annulus. Studies have shown that when a spinal disc is pierced with a knife and then compressed, this crisscross pattern of the annulus layers self-seals the cut, resulting in no leakage of the liquid center. So, how can a disc bulge, rupture or herniate?

Answer: as your disc ages or when it’s injured, tears or “fissures” in the disc fibers occur creating channels for the liquid part to work its way out towards the edge and eventually break through the outermost layer – hence, the term “herniated disc.” It’s similar to stepping on that jelly donut until the jelly leaks out.

image of MRI for back pain

An MRI series of a patient showing
herniated disc and bulging disc.

Spinal discs usually bulge or herniate where the spinal nerve roots are located… creating a pinched nerve.  A pinched nerve in your neck will create a shooting pain down your arm and/or hand. Your arms and hands may also feel weaker. In the early stages, this shows up as clumsiness or dropping things from your hand. If you have a pinched nerve in your low back, this can create shooting pain down your butt, thigh, leg or foot… a condition known as Sciatica.

Image showing the pattern of sciatica back pain down the leg

The pattern of pain, numbness or
tingling in someone with Sciatica.

Your thigh and leg muscles in the affected area will feel weaker causing clumsiness such as tripping. You’ll also notice a loss of muscle mass in your leg or foot. Because you’re losing muscle mass, you may notice that your affected foot needs a smaller shoe size or that your shoe on the affected side is looser.

Again, without proper nerve input, your muscles will get weaker. For example, if your pinched nerve is in your low back, your thigh, leg and foot muscles on the side of your pinched nerve will get smaller and weaker. Do you already notice muscle loss in your butt, thigh, leg or foot on the side of your pinched nerve? Does your shoe on that side already feel looser?

The disc usually bulges or herniates only to one side. This explains why symptoms of a pinched nerve is usually only on one side. But, it’s possible to have the symptoms on both sides. For some people, their symptoms come and go. But… if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that your pain, tingling or numbness is worse than the last episode. As your condition gets worse, your nerve that’s being pinched will start to degenerate or die.

A lot of people can deal with the nagging nerve pain or numbness… especially when it comes and goes. But it’s a lot harder for people to deal with the loss of function that comes later when their pinched nerve doesn’t get fixed. If caught and treated early, most pinched nerves can be fixed without a lot of loss of function. However, an untreated pinched nerve that progresses to the advanced degenerative stages almost always results in PERMANENT loss of function that will affect your activities of daily living.

How can you tell if YOU have a pinched nerve?

You’ll have one or more of the symptoms that we talked about above – back pain, neck pain, leg pain or numbness or tingling, weak muscles, tripping, dropping things from your hand. If you have x-rays, you can usually see the bone spurs and uneven wear and tear on your spinal bones. If you have an MRI, you may see bulged discs and/or herniated discs.

There are also other clues that tell you that you may have a pinched nerve in your neck or back… BAD POSTURE.

Image of a person with abnormal posture causing neck pain

Her ear opening should be in line with her shoulders.
How does your posture compare?

This lady has a bad posture where she holds her head too far forward. If you have a pinched nerve, it can be really hard to maintain a good posture while you sit or stand. It will either be painful or your weak muscles can’t support the proper posture.

image of a bad back posture causing back pain

Another example of bad posture.

Notice how a bad posture can make you look LESS ATTRACTIVE… LESS CONFIDENT and LESS ENERGETIC. Have you ever noticed that a lot of the top performers in companies and in sports teams have good posture? Having good posture can have huge positive impact on your life. But again, if you have a pinched nerve, it will be very difficult for you to have good posture.

If you have a pinched nerve, what can you do
to relieve your annoying symptoms?

The treatment will depend on what’s causing your pinched nerve in the first place, but here are some things that you can do to get relief. STOP doing the activities and/or positions that make your pinched nerve symptoms WORSE. Also, DO the activities and/or positions that make your pinched nerve symptoms BETTER.

You should also walk everyday. How long and how far you walk will depend on your fitness level. Walk as much as you can, but don’t overdo it. Walking moves your spinal muscles and joints. This helps lubricate your joints. Hopefully, this will help stop the damage… and prevent your other undamaged joints from getting Spinal Arthritis.

You should also do spinal exercises and stretching that are specific to your condition.

Image of back exercises for back pain

If you’re going to do exercises
for your low back or neck,

make sure that you’re doing the
right one for your specific condition.

If after you’ve tried the above suggestions, your pinched nerve is not better, you may need specialized care. Your body can often deal with mild spinal problems on its own with rest, stretches and exercise. However, when you have a problematic pinched nerve, you may be past this point. You need to get your nerve unpinched right away to STOP further loss of your muscle mass and STOP further loss of your function. Don’t wait until it becomes painful for you to stand for a long time… or to sit for a long time… or to go up stairs… or to lift things off the floor. Definitely don’t wait until you can no longer move.

People with pinched nerves… like sciatica sufferers… make common expensive mistakes. What are they? They ignore their problem… hoping that their sciatica will go away on its own. A pinched nerve that remains untreated, will get worse over time. Other common mistakes are: using ice instead of heat… or vice versa… and not doing the right exercises for their condition. If you have sciatica, get your FREE copy of the sciatica book that I wrote titled, “How To Relieve Sciatica And Avoid Back Surgery.” How? Click on the green box below that says, “FREE SCIATICA BOOK.”

In the past, the only way to unpinch a pinched nerve was with back surgery. Thanks to modern technology, we now have a non-surgical option to treat a pinched nerve. It’s called Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression. Here’s what it looks like:

Image of a Santa Cruz chiropractor using a machine to treat a patient with low back pain and sciatica.

It’s like a modern version of “the rack.”
But this one is a lot safer and very effective
After 16 years in practice, I’ve treated over 3,500 patients
and this machine does a great job in helping my patients with pinched nerves.

With this Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression machine, you don’t have to worry about SCARY post-surgical side effects such as post-operative infection, post-operative fibrosis or scar… or Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. Some back surgeons have even recommended that their patients try this machine first before going under the surgical knife.

This impressive machine, expertly designed by doctors, scientists and engineers, will gently stretch your low back… releasing your pinched nerve. It may also help heal your bulging discs, ruptured discs and degenerated discs. This treatment is so EASY and so RELAXING that most of my patients using this take a short nap during their session.

How does it help heal your discs? It creates negative pressure within your degenerated lumbar discs. So it acts like a vacuum that sucks in water and nutrients back into your discs. This helps REHYDRATE your discs… a critical step in repairing bulging discs, herniated discs and degenerated discs. Built-in sensors meticulously record your low back’s activity and response to the treatment. Your feedback response data is analyzed and used to design your custom treatment… a unique process that increases your treatment success.

If you have a pinched nerve… and you’d like to try this machine, call us at (831) 475-8600 to see if this machine is right for you. The sooner we unpinch your nerve, the less function you’ll lose and the quicker your recovery.

Click here for more patient testimonials.

 If you’d like Dr. Falkenroth to help you with your back pain, neck pain or sciatica, call us at (831) 475-8600 to schedule your appointment.

Image of a link to a free sciatica book on treatments for sciatica pain
Image of a link for a free back pain book that has back pain exercises
Image of a link for a back pain and sciatica treatment offer

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Back Pain & Sciatica Clinic
2959 Park Ave., Suite F
Soquel, CA  95073
(831) 475-8600

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