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What is a ‘trapped nerve’?

What is a ‘trapped nerve’?

What is a ‘trapped nerve’?

Most people who come to see us at The Chiropractic Centre: Bristol have a form of ‘trapped nerve’ causing their pain.  A lot of Chiropractors will also call this ‘trapped nerve’ a ‘subluxation’.  The question is, what is a trapped nerve?  To start with your nerves go everywhere throughout your body.  They nerves control everything; every movement, sensation, thought and emotion.  They do this by linking your brain to your body.  Your brain is like a big computer that sends messages down through the spinal cord and out through the nerves between each vertebrae to the whole body.  In fact, you have so many of them that if you removed every cell apart from your nerves you would still be recognisable!  So you can see, the nerves of your body are very important indeed!

So how do these nerves get trapped?

Poor desk posture trapped nerve neck back pain

Poor posture is a major cause of trapped nerves

Well, there are many different ways to trap a nerve, however I’m going to explain the one that we see most commonly.  The spinal column and nerves are housed within the spine.

Trapped nerves are mostly caused by a build up of poor posture and stress

A trapped nerve is caused by two things: big traumas, like a car crash or falling down the stairs, or, most commonly, small repetitive traumas, like poor posture and stress.  So essentially it is because of our modern lifestyles that we don’t look after our spines very well.  So when these traumas happen to the spine the vertebrae (the spine bones) that are designed to move freely can stiffen up.  When a joint in the spine does not work properly then it can irritate the nerve next to it.  Although this process is much more complicated and involves fancy long names, for simplicity sake, we call it a ‘trapped nerve’.

So what symptoms can a ‘trapped nerve’ cause?

Firstly, you are most likely to feel pain where the nerve is trapped.  So if you trap a nerve in the low back you will feel low back pain.  If you trap a nerve in your neck, you will feel neck pain.  However the more ‘pressure’ that is put on the nerve the further away from where it is trapped you can feel it.  This is called referred pain.  So for example, some of the nerves from your low back go down your legs as the sciatic nerve.  This can cause pain down your leg all the way to your foot and is often known as sciatica.  Likewise, the nerves from the top of your neck go up into your head causing headaches; and the nerves from your lower neck go into your arms to your fingers.  I’ve mentioned pain as this is the most common presentation, however a trapped nerve can cause tingling, pins and needles, numbness and weakness of the muscles; in some cases it can cause no symptoms at all.

So what can be done to get rid of a trapped nerve?

There are many things you can do to help a trapped nerve, for example, using an ice pack, stretching, massage, changing your work set up or stressful situation and of course Chiropractic.  As a Chiropractor I’m biased and say that the Chiropractic Adjustment is the best thing for a trapped nerve, combined with the other suggestions as well.

Chiropractic care is very effective for people with trapped nerves

As a Chiropractor we use specific Chiropractic adjustments to get the movement back into the restricted spinal joint and take the pressure off the nerve.  The body can then do what it has been wanting to do all along, and that is to heal the nerve.  Voilà, with the pressure off the nerve and the nerve healing, the pain reduces!  Simple isn’t it!

So the next point is, if you think you have a trapped nerve or know someone who has, then why not get a Chiropractic check up to see if Chiropractic can help you.

P.S. If you live in Bristol, we’re in Clifton and are the best Bristol Chiropractors 😉  #ShamelessPromotion!!

  • phil cooper

    My wife has a pain top of her leg which radiates into her bottom & down her leg she just woke up with it

    • Bruce Williams

      6 weeks ago my friends’ sciatic nerve got trapped whilst sweeping the floor, since then he has had scans and injections but hasn’t helped much, run out of sick pay and holiday leave, now on benefits, sleeps sitting up at the table with several pillows but still refuses to see a chiropractor because his doctor says ‘NO’ he does have some degenerative stuff going on as shown by the x-rays. Can a chiropractor release the nerve with manipulation and at least get him back to manageable ‘not perfect’ like before, thanks

  • Ayisha

    Hi, I think I have a trapped nerve in my neck. I have a bump in the left side of my neck, it feels like a ball inside my neck and feels really stiff. It is getting harder for me to lift my head as it hurts. I have tried to make it better by getting it massaged, this still hasn’t helped, I have been to the doctors and they said it is just a muscle. I would like to know what can be done to make the pain go away. Any help?

  • Marie

    I was getting up from the floor when I felt a sharp pain in my foot. Whenever I try to put my foot down flat the pain gets worse. I’ve tried massaging the area to see it that helped but it hasn’t.

  • john

    Woke with a stiff neck a couple of weeks ago. Still painful and got numbness in fingers and shoulder pain?

  • Theresa

    Hy got a trapped nerve in the neck the pain us easing but still got numbness in my two fingers wil the numbness go ?

    • Michelle Ricciardone

      Woke up move to certain we received a shooting pain on the left side of my neck goes up to my head the pain is so severe I can barely move what can I do for it

  • Lindsay

    Hey, I have a sore pain in my thigh when I press on it the Iain travels down my leg.

  • Kirsten Marley

    I have has this pain for a couple of weeks now and this is now what I think it is this really helped thanks

  • Karina

    Hey, I woke up this morning with the most excruciating pain in my left shoulder blade. Sitting, breathing in, standing up and moving my arm around is awful. It’s a horrible long and drawn-out pain; I have a feeling I might have slept in a weird way. I’ve dislocated my right shoulder twice before, but the left one has never given me any problems until today. Any help?

    • Mia

      Hi Karina,

      I have woken up this morning with exactly the same symptoms!

      Did you find out what your pain was or how did you fix it?


  • Sam

    Hiya I get a sensation going up into the side of my head it’s tingly but lasts 2 seconds but I get a ache in my back and leg wen I get it is this a trapped nerve ? I only get it wen I’m sat down mainly

  • Amanda

    I have had pain in my shoulder neck and now hips for 8 weeks. I have seen 4 different doctors who have given me various meds. I am now on diazepam and naproxen. I have been advised the next physio ap is in a month. I am currently off work as I am struggling with every day momovement. What do you suggest I can’t carry on like this and need to get back to work. Thanks For listening

  • Sarah

    I have a sharp pain just above my left cheek that radiates across my left buttock into my hip. Considerably worse at night.

    • jen

      Hi sarah, i have the same thing. Sharp pain that is a dull ache in my left lower back just above my cheek. Have now had this for 3 years and nobody has given me any solution. I have it every day and its always worse at night even if i havent put any strain on it during the day. Let me know if you found any advice on this!

  • Colin

    Hi, last week I was involved in a incident at work where my ankle and shin was trapped since then theres been swelling to both my lower leg and ankle, but only hurts when I apply pressure to my heel…. also I know nothing is broken or bruised could this be a trapped nerve?

  • Alice

    Hi, I have shooting pains from my left bum cheek and pain from my toes to my shoulder on my left side only

  • Tara

    I have pin and needles in my left buttocks and traveling to my back and into my left hand.. It’s been like this for a week. I got gym, not sure what I have done.

  • Sharon

    Trap nerve under right hand shoulder what can I do

  • Stef

    Hi I have a stabbing pain at the very top of the side of my leg just below my hip bone. The pain is very concentrated and is not radiating into the muscles, and it isn’t my hip itself that is hurting. could this be a trapped nerve? the pain started when I played netball a couple of weeks ago – the first time I had played I 10 years so I must have moved in a way I haven’t done for a while!

    • Charles Herbert

      Hello Stef,
      It sounds like a pulled muscle, however if it is still causing pain after a couple weeks I recommend you finding a local Chiropractor to assess your complaint. You could have a misaligned pelvis that has predisposed you to the netball injury.

  • paul

    i have had back trouble all my life something hereditary but 7 days ago i bent down heard a crack in my lower back and since then i can hardly walk i am on butrans patches and neproxin but the pain is still very server is there any point in going to the doctors or will it just go away

    • Charles Herbert

      Hello Paul, I recommend you get a full examination with either a local Chiropractor or your GP. They will be able to advise you accordingly.
      Kind regards,

  • Marion

    I have bad pain going down my buttock right side. The pain goes all the way down the back of my leg and ankle help please!

    • Charles Herbert

      Please read our blog on Sciatica

  • patricia ellis

    I visited my Chiropractor yesterday as I had an excrutiating
    pain in my right groin. She thought that it was caused by a
    trapped nerve. She worked on my back and found that my pelvis
    was out which she treated. Things really are no better today.
    The pain comes on suddenly and is so acute that I fear falling
    over, but it lasts only seconds.

    • Charles Herbert

      Hello Patricia,
      I’ve just sent you an email.

  • John Magor

    Had the most excruciating pain In my lower part of my leg from the knee to foot,eased of a little mainly round ankle area now,but the side of my calf feels numb.also feel a slight headache.any suggestions.

    • Charles Herbert

      Hello John,
      I’ll send you an email.