DIET AND FITNESS:

Pinched Nerve -- Causes and Top
10 Remedies
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Last updated March 21, 2017 (originally published October 28, 2011)

By Alison Turner, Contributing Columnist





Pinched nerves are a leading cause of back pain, carpal
tunnel pain and neck pain.  Often mistaken for other
conditions, pinched nerves -- technically called "compressive
neuropathy" -- are causing considerable pain in our wallets.  
Americans spend at least $50 billion every year on lower
back pain caused in part by pinched nerves, according to
The  National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
What causes a pinched nerve?  Are there massage
techniques that can help a pinched nerve? Are there any
natural remedies for pinched nerves?

What exactly
is a pinched nerve?  As the name suggests,
pinched nerves occur when any of your nerves are
compressed --by surrounding tissue, muscle or bone.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerve

Symptoms of a pinched nerve include feelings of “pins and
needles” (numbness) and “pain radiating outward from the
injured area.”  Treatment depends on the location of the
pinched nerve and the patient’s individual circumstances,
and can range from physical therapy to anti-inflammatory
drugs to surgery.

The American Academy of Neurology stresses that early
diagnosis of a pinched nerve is incredibly important, as it can
lead to more serious conditions such as peripheral
neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow, the
consequences of which vary from “minor, temporary
damage to a more permanent condition.”  


Below is a list of 10  causes of a pinched nerve, and recent
studies by experts proposing relevant treatments:
































1.        
Herniated disk. The World Health Organization
highlights that the most common causes of a pinched nerve
is a herniated, slipped or bulging disc (terms which often
cause confusion, but which more or less indicate the same
condition).  The spine is composed of 26 vertebrae, in
between which are jelly-like disks that serve as pads for the
vertebrae and keep them in place. A herniated disk occurs
when one of these disks moves out of place  (slips, bulges,
etc) which, oftentimes, presses upon a nerve.

There are two basic directions to take if you have a
herniated disk.  One is surgery the other is…not surgery.  In
2006, Dr. Weinstein at the Dartmouth Medical School and a
team of doctors affiliated with various universities and
research centers in the United States, analyzed the
effectiveness of “lumbar diskectomy,” that is generally used
to treat a herniated disk, and “nonoperative care,” (which
includes individual treatment for each patient such as rest,
anti-inflammatory medication, or physical therapy).  The
study concludes positively for both options, as “patients in
both the surgery and the nonoperative treatment groups
improved substantially.” The direction of treatment depends
on the individual case, but it is
a relief to know that a slipped
disk doesn’t automatically mean surgery.

2.        
Arthritis.  Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint,
which is where two bones meet.  Under normal
circumstances cartilage allows joints to move smoothly by
absorbing the shock of pressure placed upon joints, and
generally protects the area.  When this cartilage breaks
down the bones are not protected and rub together, causing
pain and swelling: arthritis.  

This breakdown of cartilage could come from a disease, a
broken bone, infection, or result from general use of bones.  

Unfortunately, the underlying cause of arthritis can usually
not be cured -- there are, however, treatment options to
reduce pain and improve joint function.     Physical therapy
and exercise, splints, massage, stress reduction, a healthy
diet, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, and surgery
are all possible options, depending on the individual’s
circumstances.  

Another option for treatment of arthritis is steroids such as
corticosteroid, a method that Dr. Karin Hellgren with the
Rheumatology Unit at Karolinska University Hospital in
Sweden  reports is “debated.”  However, in 2008 Dr.
Hellgren and other specialists found that patients with
arthritis are at an “increased risk of malignant lymphomas”
(a type of cancer), and that steroid treatment, such as
corticosteroid, is “associated with decreased lymphoma risk”
and thus may be an appropriate method of treatment for
some patients.

[Update:

Periodic fasting appears to reduce arthritis stiffness and
pain, according to a 1991 study from Karolinska Institute,
Södersjukhuset, Stockholm. Patients suffering from arthritis
who totally fasted fro a few days saw a "substantial
reduction" in joint pain, swelling of joints, morning stiffness,
and other arthritic symptoms.

Unfortunately, this intriguing study has not been repeated
and confirmed by other universities.]


Read more about the
ideal breakfast to fight the pain and
inflammation of arthritis.]


3.        
Spinal Stenosis.  A pinched nerve in the neck can also
be a sign of spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spinal
column narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and
thinning the opening where nerves leave the spine.   This
happens frequently with age, as spinal disks begin to shrink
and bones and ligaments become more susceptible to
arthritis (swelling).  

Treating for spinal stenosis generally involves physical
therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture or medication to
reduce pain – in particularly serious cases, surgery may be
an option.

If the condition does merit surgical remedy, it helps to know
that the surgery will likely be successful. A team of doctors
with the School of Medicine at Keio University in Tokyo led
by Dr. Morio Matumoto with the Department of
Musculoskeletal Reconstruction and Regeneration Surgery,
published findings in 2006 that are optimistic for surgical
treatment.  In their study, 100 percent of the patients
undergoing surgery for stenosis “experienced immediate
pain relief postoperatively.”  

4.        
Facet Joint Disease.  Facet joints, a part of the
connection between vertebrae, are almost always in motion.  
Unfortunately, for some people this cannot go on forever;
facet joints can wear out or become degenerated,
particularly in the elderly, usually because the spinal discs
have become thinner and compensate by placing more
weight on the area.  

This added stress can result in inflammation or bone spurs
(see below), or arthritis of the facet joint, equally known as
facet joint disease or facet syndrome.   A team of experts led
by Dr. Leonid Kalichman and David Hunter from the Boston
University School of Medicine  (2008) studied the association
between arthritis of the facet joint and lower back pain of
nearly 200 patients between the ages of 40 and 80, and
concluded that there is a “high prevalence” of facet joint
arthritis in people with lower back pain.  Indeed, facet joint
disease is one of the most common causes of a pinched
nerve in the spine,  and hence guilty of many patients’ back
pain.

Fortunately, there is something you can do to try to prevent
facet joint disease: you can decrease your risk for obesity by
making healthy lifestyle changes (the ever-popular diet and
exercise).   Any extra pounds on your body gives more work
to your vertebrae and discs, so that a healthy weight is a
great first step to decrease your risk.  (Read more about the
reasons you are not losing weight, and strategies that help.)

If you do end up with facet joint disease, treatment options
include exercises and physical therapy, chiropractic
manipulation, anti-inflammatory medicine, and surgery.
(5-6) In 2005, Dr. Willibald Nagler with the Weill Cornell
Medical College in New York , counseled that many people
who think they endure sciatica (pain in the lower hip and/or
upper back)  actually suffer a pinched nerve in the spinal
column.  In addition to a damaged spinal disk (see herniated,
slipped or bulging disk, above), Dr. Nagler suggests that
bone spurs and muscle spasms are other common causes of
a pinched nerve that might be confused with sciatica, as
described below.

5.        
Bone spurs.  Bone spurs in the back are not what
they sounds like: instead of spiky pokes, they are smooth,
slow-growing structures, known in the medical world as
osteophytes.   Osteophytes are an enlargement of normal
bone structure in the spine, and are not uncommon in people
over the age of 60.  However, as suggested by Dr. Nagler,
this “enlargement” could push against a nerve and cause
pain in the back or hip.  

An experiment on rats in 2004 by a team of researchers with
Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania, led
by Dr. Le T. Duong with the Department of Bone Biology and
Osteoporosis Research at the same establishment,  suggests
a potential method for preventing bone spurs.  Their study
looked at how osteoarthritis, a “degenerative joint disease”
which is partially accompanied by osteophyte formation
(bone spurs), is affected by Alendronate (ALN), “a nitrogen-
containing bisphosphonate and a potent inhibitor of
osteoclastic bone resorption.” They found that using ALN
treatment on rats “inhibited osteophtye formation in a dose-
dependent manner” – not only could this help humans with
osteophythes, but it could also help to prevent osteoarthritis.


If bone spurs do occur, treatment ranges from anti-
inflammatory or muscle relaxant medication, rest,
rehabilitation therapy, to injections of cortisone, to surgery.

6.        
Muscle spasms.   

Continue reading         page 1        
page 2






































































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Fibromylagia-An Ideal Diet

My Aching Bones
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for Your Health? / Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal
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Neck pain can be caused by
pinched nerves.