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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!!

  • Have I got a trapped nerve

    My right hand is burning my children threw a ball and it got me side on my hand. My little finger took the blow exactly the same thing happened in work a young person threw an object which I blocked with the same hand I near fainted. The pain was sharp burning like a nerve was pulled etc. I’ve had this for some months now it appears to be getting worse.
    I am now literally jumping out of my skin with the pain certain positions I hold my hand and it just comes in spasms right along the edge on my hand but the burning sensation is as though I’ve torn or ripped something along the knuckle area. I can move it bend etc. but once I move it floors me. Then it eases off. Thank you for your time Esther Baker

  • Paul

    i have suffered with a pain in my right side for 7 years.

    Mostly around my kidney area, this last 6 months the pain has gone into my right buttock and right outer calf muscle.

    I’m 52, it keeps me awake at night and I’m in pain every day with it.
    The pain is like a knife cutting me , I have to get this sorted.

    Please help


  • Jean

    Hi – In early December the day after one of my Zumba sessions, I started to get pain to one side of my hip, by early January the pain was in my calf muscle and my foot. Now I cannot stand for more that a couple of minutes. It is an acute pain in the muscle. I cannot do my Pilates class either. I have been told that it is a trapped nerve in F1 S5 (or the other way round), plus the xray showed I have arthritis in both hips. I am having physio, but need to know how long this pain could go on for. As normally I am very active. Any ideas?

  • Dana

    My partner feels a pain around his right shoulder blade he thinks it’s a trapped nerve he also gets pins and needles in his right hand he finds it uncomfortable either sitting or lying in bed can you help many thanks

  • Geoffrey Murray

    Hi, a few week’s ago i was getting nek ache when looking down,ie reading that sort o thing, i woke up one morning with a pain in my shoulder, collarbone area,this gradually got worse as i am employed as a hgv driver,turning my head to look right was agony.i have been off sick for 3 weeks ,doctors gave me naproxen,pain varies from back of neck,to down my arm ,with muscle weakness , ( cant lift my arm up ), i have visited a chiropractic centre 3 times ,it aleviates the pain for a short while ,then it returns .im now off work for 2 more weeks ,and still no better . Please help.

  • Norma Wilson

    HI. HELP.
    EXCRUTISTING PAIN IN THE LEFTSIDE OF MY BACK.. I FEEL VERY NAUSIUS AND TIRED. WENT DOCS, CRYING IN AGONY. GAVE ME STONG CO CODEMOL 30/500 and stronger version of ibrofrofem. But they still do nothing for the pain. Judt make me feel ill.

    • Valerie

      severe pain in my lower back left hand side I can actually stick my finger into the area. I can’t stand properly most days an lean to the right side for ease an comfort in about 5stone over weight an have a personal trainer some times I’m in agony after working out but I don’t know if there is any other alternative remedies I cannot take pain killers with codeine any suggestions

      • valerie

        P. S get numbing sensations on each side of my thighs

  • Lisa

    Hi , I’ve been experiencing real agony in my pelvic area inside my leg joining , also in my lower back. The pain is so bad , when I try so sit and bend my neck down slightly to look at the floor the pain gets worse in the bottom of my back and buttocks area ?? Help

  • Bethan Jones

    Have pain on my left bum cheek going down my left leg went to bed last night with really bad pain and got up this morning and could not walk with the pain 🙁 please could you help me

    • Charles Herbert

      Hello Bethan, it sounds like you need to get that checked out. If you’re near our clinic we will happily examine you and tell you how we can help. If not then find a local Chiropractor to get yourself examined.

  • Bethan Jones

    Im getting pain on my left bum cheek going down my left leg, I have had this for over a month now and its getting worse.

  • Kye

    Over the last couple of days I’ve had a severe pain between my spine and left shoulder blade. If I sit or lay in certain positions the pain lessens/seems to go. As soon as I move bam I’m in agony again. It’s much worse at night and only get a max of 4 hours sleep then wake up wanting to roll over but doing so causes excruciating pain. Would you have said this is a trapped nerve?

  • Esmerelda

    A few days ago I fell down a few stairs and landed on my thigh. There is slight swelling and it still hurts when touched. The day after I started feeling pain in my lower leg and then it felt like it ways numb or having pressure put on it.

  • millie taylor

    i have severe pain in my right ankle which travels u>p the leg. i am having acupuncture tteatment for trapped nerve but have been told pain travelling up the leg isn’t a trapped nerve but vitamin d deficiency, who do you think is right? thank you

  • Mala

    i have shoulder blade stapling pain, I also can’t take a few breathe, I felt something snap in the left side. I have had mri on neck and back, nothing shows a pinched nerve, I am still feeling electric pain in the shoulder blade and can’t breath in deep. Very scared!!!

  • Colin Aherne

    hi there about a month ago from bad posture i got pain in my neck and tingling pins and needles in hands and tingling on lower face my neck is real sore and doing excercises it hurts at time is this a trapped nerve?? think its more muscle can a chiropractor fix this or wphysio

  • lana

    I have a trap nerve right under my right hand shoulder. Sometimes the pain is stable,sometimes it is unreal which causes really bad head aches.I have used several remidies hot baths, hot water bottles creams etc, however its still there. What Is the solution?

  • Heather

    I get pain in my neck and left shoulder and down my left back ,I have pain at lower left and I get pain in left arm and leg which can go numb when walking but when I lie down my leg turns back to normal .doc just gives me zapain that’s it .can you help .

  • linzi

    i have pain in my lower back hip and cramp in my leg on the right hand side…… is this a trapped nerve?

  • rachael milnes

    I gave birth 3 years ago to my daughter and I had to have stitches and I had my legs up on them things (can’t remember the name of them) and ever since then my left leg goes all numb when I am laid on my left side or on my back then I get pins and needles, what would you suggest me to do.

  • Monica

    I was awoken early on Boxing Day morning with pins and needles in both hands. I shook this off in my left hand but the tingling remained in my right hand. This carried on fir about 10 days when I noticed two thirds my middle and two thirds of my ring finger on my right hand feeling numb and some clumsiness in my right thumb. Went urgent care and they checked my blood sugar which was fine plays did Ecg which they said was fine too. Not sure what to do now.

  • Jacquie burton

    Hi I bent over a few days ago and when I tried to get up I found the pain on the lower right hand side of my back so bad I could not move I have now managed to get upright walking about helps but the pain is always there trying to arise from sitting or lying down is awfull what do you suggest