Have you ever been diagnosed with a “pinched nerve”? Have you ever wondered what causes a nerve to become pinched or trapped? Pinched nerves are usually diagnosed in association with neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, and/or sciatica. But this vague diagnosis, accompanied by a hurried drug prescription, fails to illuminate what is pinching the nerve.

As nerves branch off the spinal cord within the spine, they must pass through numerous foramina (holes) between vertebrae to reach their respective targets in the body. This hole or canal between two vertebrae is made up the bony vertebrae and the cartilaginous disc that separates them. If the vertebrae themselves are displaced or shifted by even a tiny amount, or if there is a disc injury as in bulge, protrusion, or herniation, pressure can be placed on the nerve and it begins to suffer.

It is important to know that the initial impingement cannot usually be felt because only a small fraction of nerve tissue carries danger singles to the brain. When danger signals exceed safety signals via the nervous system, the brain can perceive pain. However, when this squeezing irritation breaches a “pain threshold”, a symptom emerges. Depending on which fibres within the nerves are being compressed, symptoms may include sharp darting pain originating in the neck or low back that radiates down the course of the nerve into the shoulder or buttock, dull aches at the source, or even tight and sore muscles.

These symptoms are there to let you know there is a problem. The real health issue is not the pain, but rather the damage that the body incurs as the nerve messages are choked off from their intended destinations. Over time, the organs in your body can begin to lose their proper function, and the pain usually worsens as well.

Quite obviously, if a nerve is being trapped, pinched, or impinged, wouldn’t it make sense to find out what is causing the pinching? It is somewhat alarming the sheer number of patients that are simply given painkillers or anti-inflammatories as a treatment for these types of health issues. Wouldn’t that mask the problem and possibly even create more damage to be done over time? Would you place tape over a blinking engine light? Then why would you accept that solution for your own body?