Pinched nerves are a common source of pain among people specifically the ones belonging to the older age groups since they are usually the ones suffering from age-related degeneration of the body or degenerative diseases.
Apart from them, any other person performing repetitive movements, anyone who is obese, or anyone who makes a sudden movement can have issues of compressed nerves which can last for a short as well as a long period of time.
Pain from compressed nerves or pinched nerves can vary from person to person and also depends on a number of factors including what caused it in the first place.
Majority of the times, pinched nerves is an everyday condition which goes away on its own and is not much of a hassle but it has also been seen to last for a prolonged time with almost unbearable pain that can also result in permanent nerve damage.
Compressed nerves can occur at any part of the body depending on the cause. One of the most common places to get a pinched nerve is in the neck. A compressed nerve root in the neck is also known as cervical radiculopathy in medical terminology.
What Is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is a condition in which a compressed nerve in the spine leads to mild to severe pain in the affected person. The pain can occur in any area of the body but the most common ones are in the back and neck.
In this condition, the compressed nerves are in fact the roots of the nerve cells that become either irritated or inflamed due to a number of reasons where the most diagnosed one is abnormal amounts of pressure.
The roots of the nerves can receive pressure from its surrounding areas.
For example, cartilage, muscles, bones, tendons, and tissues that have been damaged because of some injury, movement, or inflammatory disease or protrude outward can add to the pressure on the nerve roots.
What is the function of the nerves and nerve cells? Nerves have the primary function of linking the brain with the fundamental sensory information regarding the condition of different areas of the body, potential threats, pain, and well-being.
The most important nerves are located at the back and run down along with the spinal cord all the way down to the center and are also interconnected with other nerves that in the lower body, limbs, and elsewhere.
Increased pressure on these nerves leads to disturbance in the normal functioning and communication. A compressed nerve has a symbolic feeling of needles and pins and visible swelling if the compression stays for a longer period of time.
The causes of a radiculopathy can be different and vary from person to person. They can range from a herniated disc in the back, injury, or a pinched nerve in the neck. The pain in this condition often spreads to other parts over time specifically the legs and lower body.
What Are The Symptoms Of Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is known for its most prominent symptoms – the feeling of needles or pins being inserted into the affected part and the pain that comes with it. How does the pain in radiculopathy feel like?
The pain in this condition can be different for every other person depending on the cause, age, gender, amount of physical activity, medical history, and any other present health condition. It can be mild and manageable while other times it is severe and unbearable.
It is also possible for the commonly mentioned signs of radiculopathy such as tingling, pain, shooting and swelling to come and go every other day as well as develop into chronic health conditions.
The pain caused by radiculopathy can occur in a number of areas including the cervical region or the neck, lumbar spine or lower spine, and thoracic region.
The pain goes away by itself in everyday cases but sometimes it can stay and lead to permanent nerve damage along with chronic pain.
The signs of radiculopathy depend mainly on where a person experiences the pain but all types have some common symptoms as well such as feeling an increase in pressure, tenderness combined with pain, some degree of scarring, and swelling.
Other symptoms of radiculopathy also include difficulty in performing everyday tasks, finding moving more challenging, difficulty in exercising.
The signs of radiculopathy are also not confined to one particular area of the body. The condition gets its name from the type of pain it causes which is radicular pain or nerve root pain which can easily spread from one area of the body to another.
Radicular pain can also cause a number of other health conditions with it including numbness in different parts of the body, fatigue, disturbed sleep cycles, and weakness.
The symptoms of having cervical radiculopathy include the following:
- Worsening of pain when doing minor movements such as typing on a computer
- Difficulty in lifting even the lightweight things
- Pain, shooting, and numbness that travels from the neck to the upper back, arms, and shoulders
- A weakening of grip and stiffness
- Pain traveling down to hands, fingers, and elbows
- Feeling weak and tired more often
- The sensation of pins and needles
- Pain and inflammation that are also linked with tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or carpal tunnel syndrome
The symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy are the following:
- Pain that starts in the lower back and travels all the way down to the legs
- Worsening of pain after bending, exercising, or walking
- Worsening of pain after during sleep/after waking up
- Tingling and burning sensations in the buttocks, thighs, and in the lower back
- Traveling of the pain upwards in the neck or chest
What Causes Radiculopathy?
The increase in the amounts of pressure and stress on the roots of the nerves is the main cause of all types of radiculopathy which changes the way nerve cells interact with each other and can lead to nerve dysfunction.
In addition to the several spots on the body where compression of the nerves can take place, there can also be many reasons or a set of reasons depending on the person of the pain.
So far, the most common cause of radiculopathy is wear and tear that comes with the process of aging in the over 45 age group as the people belonging to this particular group are also the ones that have the condition more often than anyone.
Secondly, people from this age group as well as many of the young adults also have bad postures such as the forward head posture which can place an immense amount of pressure on the nerves roots leading to cervical radiculopathy.
People who maintain one posture or are in the same position throughout the day which puts pressure on nerves in a specific area also experience pain. People with desk jobs or any such hobbies are prone to such pain.
Thirdly, repetitive movements or sudden movements can also lead to increased stress and pressure on the nerve roots. This is especially the reason for radiculopathy in people who exercise regularly or athletes.
In addition to all the mentioned above, other causes of radiculopathy can include:
- Bones spurs (that narrow travel spaces of nerves)
- Arthritis and other degenerative diseases
- The herniated disc from weakening or tearing of the disc
- Injuries and trauma
- Recovering from health conditions that cause neuropathy such as diabetes and breast cancer
- Exercising too fast/without the essential warm-up/lifting too heavy