Do I have a "pinched nerve"?
People will often present to a chiropractor for treatment of a "pinched nerve". In most cases a pinched nerve is not the cause of their pain!
Pain from pressure on a nerve is sharp, burning, tingling, or lightning-like. Pressure on a nerve may also cause paraesthesia, commonly called pins and needles. However, many people who describe their pain like "a pinched nerve" actually have a strong dull pain, that is not caused by pressure on a nerve.
So what has happened if I haven't pinched a nerve?
There are many causes for pain around the spine. Common causes are injuries to discs, facets joints, muscles and ligaments. There may be an acute inflammatory response to injury with associated localised swelling. A chiropractor is trained to painful conditions of the spine, and does this by taking a detailed history of how and when your pain began and performing a physical examination. Most cases of spinal pain do not require and x-ray or MRI to diagnose the problem and begin a specific treatment plan, but on the occasional case that imaging is required, you will be referred for that.
I was told in the past that I had a pinched nerve, and it feels the same
Many years ago the term "pinched nerve" was used by health practitioners as a simplified explanation, and before that, it was actually thought that spinal pain was caused by pinched nerves. But as modern science progresses it is important to update terminology to describe the causes of pain accurately. It is best for you to understand what has caused the pain you are suffering, and to have knowledge about what treatment and exercises is likely to help you get better quickly, and what exercises and activities are going to help prevent recurrence of this condition. So while you may have been diagnosed in the past as having a "pinched nerve", and it is possible to have certain types of injuries that cause compression or irritation of a nerve, it is also likely that when properly assessed, you may be told, that you do not have a pinched nerve. If this is the case it is great news!
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