We all have our own personal bubbles, an area of space which we prefer to keep unoccupied.
A similar relationship exists for the nerves in our body, but if they don’t get enough space, the results are much more unpleasant. Over time, the results of injuries and degeneration in our joints can create a situation in which a nerve’s ‘personal bubble’ becomes occupied by something that doesn’t belong there. This so-called “pinched nerve,” and the resulting pain and dysfunction, is a common reason for someone to seek help.
A common site for this to occur is between the vertebrae of our spine. A pair of nerves emerge from between each set of vertebrae through small holes called foramina; nerves become “pinched” when this space is lost to something else, for example, a protruding disc or a bone spur. The former can be the result of a slow or sudden traumatic process, the latter is a gradual degenerative process that occurs over many years.
The point in time when the pain starts to be felt does not always directly correlate to when the problem occurred. Degeneration can be present and progress gradually for many years before it begins to create symptoms such as pain, or as a loss of sensation and muscle weakness in more serious presentations. Diagnosis through examination and appropriate imaging are essential in guiding the management of each specific presentation. A commonly overlooked factor in this puzzle in the contribution of imbalanced head and neck alignment, which places asymmetrical stress on the structures of the neck. Have you been checked to see if your head is on straight?
If this is an issue for you or someone you know, call our office to book a consultation. Nothing is more rewarding for us than helping our patients find relief by assisting them in putting together the pieces of their health puzzle.
Written by Dr. Trevor Hillard