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Posts Tagged ‘nerve compression’

Whether you’re a dedicated professional athlete or just work out whenever you can to keep yourself healthy, you have probably experienced a moment when you realized you had pushed your body too far.  Typically, this can manifest as a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve, two of the most common injuries that we treat here at the Synergy Sports Wellness Institute™.  Although these two problems may seem similar, and are easily confused, they actually require very different approaches to treatment.  Understanding how these two common injuries differ from one another is the first step to effectively relieving your discomfort and getting you back on your feet.

What’s the Difference between a Pulled Muscle and a Pinched Nerve

Pain and Swelling: Pulled Muscles

A pulled or strained muscle occurs when the fibers that make up the muscle have been overstretched or torn, often as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use.  Although strains can happen in any muscle, they are most common in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring (the muscle behind your thigh).  A pulled muscle will usually start to swell immediately, and will be very tender to the touch.  Patients may also experience bruising or redness at the site of the injury or, when the strain is severe, an inability to use the affected muscle at all.  Most muscle strains are the result of either poor flexibility or a failure to warm up properly before performing strenuous physical activity.  However, chronic muscle strains can also be caused by smaller repetitive movements, like those performed during rowing, tennis, or golf.  They can even result from merely holding the back or neck in an awkward position for long periods of time, which might occur when you work at a desk.  Relatively mild and moderate strains can be successfully treated at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), but severe strains or tears may require a full diagnostic exam in order to determine the correct course of action.  If your pain does not subside after a week, or if the injured area becomes numb, seek medical attention right away.

Pins and Needles: Pinched Nerves

Nerves run throughout the body carrying electrical impulses between the brain and every muscle and organ, but when a nerve is subjected to unusual pressure for a prolonged period of time, those impulses can become partially obstructed, causing a loss of feeling in the affected area.  Nerve compression, commonly known as a pinched nerve, usually occurs in nerves that pass through narrow points in the body between ligaments, tendons, and bones.  Repetitive motion, or even simply holding the body in one position for a long period of time, can cause inflammation in the surrounding tissues, and when those tissues are swollen, they apply pressure on the nerves.  Initially, compression on the nerve causes a characteristic pins-and-needles sensation.  However, if the compression continues, numbness and severe pain can result.  Some of the more common sources of pain and discomfort that we treat at the Synergy Sports Wellness Institute™, like carpal tunnel syndrome and herniated disks, occur as the result of compressed nerves in the arm or spine, respectively.  The specific treatment for a pinched nerve can vary considerably, depending on the area affected and the underlying cause.  It may require only a splint or brace to immobilize the area, or you may need therapy exercises that will strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve.  In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the constriction and give the patient relief, but one of our goals at Synergy Sports Wellness Institute™ is to provide patients with alternative treatment options that will help them to avoid surgery whenever possible.  Several patients have come to Synergy when surgery was suggested and, after being treated, were able to opt out of the procedure.

No matter what your age or activity level might be, everybody has to deal with injuries sooner or later, and the expert chiropractors and massage therapists at Synergy Sports Wellness Institute are here to help.  If you would like to learn more about the many different services we offer, please give us a call to schedule a chiropractic or rehabilitation appointment, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.