Nerves are like long cords which reach into every part of you except your hair and fingernails.
Common Signs & Symptoms
- Also known as 'trapped nerve'
- Numbness or decreased sensation, pins and needles, burning sensations, weakness, and/or pain
- Symptoms may be felt the entire length of the limb (Radicular Pain)
Nerves are like long cords which reach into every part of you except your hair and fingernails. Your nerves carry signals from your brain to and from your muscles and skin - they make your muscles contract and pick up sensations through your skin. Some nerves, such as your sciatic nerves which reach into and supply most of your lower body can be up to 1 cm thick so when a nerve is compressed, tethered or irritated, it can affect the muscles and sensation anywhere in your back, thigh(s) or leg(s).
Your nerves travel through tunnels which pass through muscles and soft tissues, and wrap around joints. Your nerves can become irritated, compressed or tethered (pinched) by::
- Tight muscles or muscle spasm
- A disc in your spine
- Stiff joints
- Scar tissue
- Degeneration from age or overuse eg Osteoarthritis
This interrupts the signal carried by the nerve and you will feel pain, pins and needles and numbness in the area that the pinched nerve supplies.
Advice and Treatment
Your back has a lot of deep structures which can be the source of your problem. The origin of some pains can be difficult to locate (deep muscles, discs and nerves in the spine) and MRI scans and X Rays usually do not help to find the structure(s) your problem stems from. Many people will find their back pain settles with time and self-care and there are some positive steps you can take:
Self-massage or Therapist massage - When you have pain, your muscles will often tighten or stiffen to protect the sore area and this can lead to additional pain and muscle spasm. Self-massage is where you massage your back or buttock by pressing your back and buttock muscles against a tennis ball on the wall. Applying heat to your back muscles helps to ease your discomfort and improve your blood flow.
Stay active and staying at work helps to keep your muscles toned, resting in bed is much worse for you and prevents you from healing.
Medication to lessen your pain will keep your muscle tone and prevent your muscles from weakening - back pain can stop your muscles from working, in the same way that your knee gives way when you have pain in your leg.
Improve your core (tummy, back and buttock) muscle control. When you improve the tone of the muscles around your middle, you will gain more support and control in your back which improves your ability to heal.
Should you continue to suffer pain, pins and needles or numbness which persists for longer than 2 weeks, speak to your doctor or arrange a visit to your physiotherapist who can assess the cause of your problem and give you manual treatment to help.
Please note - If you have pins and needles or numbness in your saddle area between your legs (you may feel different when you wipe after the toilet) go to A&E now as your problem may be due to a large disc herniation and you will need medical help.