Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN
Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
- What is a pinched nerve?
- What are the risk factors for a pinched nerve?
- What causes a pinched nerve?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve?
- How is a pinched nerve diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a pinched nerve?
- What is the prognosis for a pinched nerve?
- Can a pinched nerve be prevented?
- Find a local Neurologist in your town
What is a pinched nerve?
A "pinched nerve" is the name given to the uncomfortable sensation, pain, or numbness caused when increased pressure leads to irritation or damage to a peripheral nerve (A peripheral nerve is one that is outside the brain and spinal cord.). Although this condition is often associated with back pain or a neck injury, almost any nerve is susceptible.
What are the risk factors for a pinched nerve?
Anything which increases pressure around a nerve can cause a pinched nerve. Common causes include body position such as leaning on elbows, habitually crossing legs, or poor posture. Over time this may lead to pressure injury to nerves in these regions.
- Disc herniation or bulging discs and arthritis in the spine can cause pressure on nerve roots which leads to the pain or discomfort associated with a pinched nerve.
- Weight gain or water retention can predispose people to developing pinched nerves; thyroid disease (especially hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels) can contribute to both water retention and weight gain and can increase the risk of certain types of pinched nerves.
- Pregnancy, which is associated with increased weight and occasionally associated with water retention, is also a common risk factor for developing certain types of pinched nerves.
- Repetitive activities (typing and using certain tools) can also increase swelling around specific nerves and lead to symptoms of a pinched nerve.
What causes a pinched nerve?
Pressure on a peripheral nerve can irritate the nerve itself, its protective covering (myelin sheath), or both. When this occurs, the nerve is unable to conduct sensory impulses to the brain appropriately, leading to a sense of numbness. This inflammation associated with the damage or injury can also cause pain or paresthesia (a tingling or prickling sensation) signals to be sent to the brain. In its early stages, many people may describe this sensation as a body part that has "fallen asleep." However, if nerve inflammation persists, this sensation persists rather than resolving after a few minutes.
If the nerve is compressed for a short amount of time, it is often able to repair itself but it may take several weeks or months for the symptoms to fully resolve. However, if the compression remains present for a long time, permanent nerve injury may occur.
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