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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!!

  • Steve

    slipped in padling pool in Benidorm landed on my cox it arse, been in pain ever since. Pain in right bum cheek and down right leg.knee, ankle. In to foot, tried hot cream, cold cream. Aspirin, strong paracetamol. Must note, did brake fibulae right side and smashed my r/knee bike accident 1983 pain is unbearable any ideas. Is this the end of life as I new it
    Suffered now for 4 weeks. My age 59

  • Bev Chapman

    For several weeks now I have been getting a tingling sensation in my fingers and feet. Its not constant and comes and goes. Sometimes its gone for a week or too and then comes back and last for a few days.
    I have pain in the back of my neck and upper arms. Could this be a nerve problem ?

  • vikki

    I’ve got this pain in my shoulder I’ve had it for three days now. I’m pretty certain it’s a trapped nerve but I’m not 100% sure. I also have pain going down my arm and making my shoulder blade ache and my fingers ache too. Any ideas what it could be?
    Kind regards,


  • Stephanie Willcock

    For the past 5 days i have had increasing pain in my lower back and top of legs at the front, having pain look electric shock every time a move suddenly, pain is at it worst first thing in the morning, ive been taking pain killers and putting heat patch on lower back.

    • C C

      please call 0117 9741 501

  • Joan Bellingham

    Had a spin oppration on my back but I keep getting pain in my leg and electric shock down my leg what can I do it really hurts

  • Alison barber

    have numb skin on my thighs feel very cold all the time my feet are cold have very little strength in both legs poor balance and when I do stretches I get cramp thank you

  • Olga Kirby

    When walking or moving about I get terable pain in top of my leg the pain can be so bad it makes me scream

  • Donna walker

    I’ve had a trapped nerve in my hip for eight weeks now and it’s not getting any better. It really hurts to get up after sitting for a while. I fell down the stairs and landed on my bum and I felt like my spine was going to come through my head it was that much of a drop. Since then I’ve been in pain. Maybe I should go for an X-ray.

  • sheila jamieson

    Hi about 6 yrs ago i had operation on my right hand fir deupeton contracture. My 2 middle fungers were affected the most. It took a very lo g time to heal my fingers were weak for around 3 yrs. Last couple days i have terruble pain un these fingers they are stiff and i csn ot bend them . Is it related to the op or id it trapoed nerves . Thankyou

  • julie walker

    i have had sciatica for three weeks i am in agony the doctors told me i have nerve root pain its in my hip knee bottom and ankle i have never experienced so much agony i am doing mc kensie exercise and walking around and and heavy drugs i have had three pysio sessions the nerve is trapped will chiropractor help me furthur i am 56 years old and generally very fit this happened because i picked up something heavy, i am walking around all night and even sleeping when i can on the floor help please….

  • J Speakman

    Since having an operation for a strangulated hernia in January, I have suffered lack of movement and a tingling sensation almost like an electric current when touched in my ring finger and little finger in my left hand. I have been told that it may be a trapped nerve caused by the length of the operation. Any suggestions please.

  • Jean Lee

    I have had this Realy bad pain under the armpit towards middle of back just little Down from the shoulder blade can you tell me what this is I’m use hot water bottle deep heat painkillers but not going

    • gary

      hi i have a trapped nerve in top part of my back the pain going under my arm pit down my arm

  • Mia

    Hey I have a real sore back (right lower side) I am only 13 and it hurts every time I move I do gymnastics and I just want to k ow if there is any tips on how to resolve this pain? Thanks ☺️

  • Frozen shoulder ( l think)

    l work as a teacher assistant but l also clean after school in the juniors. This involves alot of hoovering. I assume this is why l have a painful shoulder. It feels stiff too. Whenever l move in certain positions l can hear a clicking noise. It feels like a dull ache which affects my neck. Its impossible to get comfortable in bed. After a couple of weeks it seems to calm down. I take alot of medication for various other elements which includes strong pain killers for arthritis but l still take exra paracetamol when my shoulder flares up. How can l prevent it coming back?

    • Phyl

      I have a trapped nerve in my pelvis/hip and my leg is numb below the knee to the ankle. I have trouble going up and down steps and my knee is very stiff. I have had some trouble with my knee for some months. I have had the trapped nerve problem 6 weeks now. What can I do to speed up recovery?

  • julie mapp

    My left shoulder at the back is pained bad and think it a trapped nerve from what I have read help please

  • Sally

    I have had really bad pains in my left arm for 10 days now. Sometimes the pain is excruciating, sometimes I have long gaps without any pain. I’m not really aware of pain in my shoulder or neck but my doctor thinks I have a trapped nerve. Currently on cocodomol but no real improvement. I was on a heavy dose of statins after a heart attack in January so wondered if it was side effects. However, the pain is relieved when I hold my arm above my head

  • maureen defelice

    sharp pain getting up after sitting. the sharp pain went up my entire spine and a sharp pain into my head causing me to feel dizzy and wanting to pass out. I have had ice and heat and used the tens machine. what do you think is wrong?

  • Brenda

    Hi, I’ve had a constant pain in the base of my head on the right side for about 4-5 days now. It feels like it needs to click. It doesn’t hurt to move my head but it’s making me feel a bit dizzy, any ideas???

  • Dennis Hedges

    Hi. I have a persistent numb yet painful feeling in my left calf and foot area. I also have soreness in left thigh area which can be painful to touch. Even the wearing of woollen track suit bottoms aggravate this. I did have a fall sometime ago and a trapped nerve has been blamed. As this complaint is non ending could there be any other reasons for this? Thank you.

  • Emma Prior

    Woke up one morning where my leg was sleep and had pin and needles in it also my arm was numb and face was tingling but also have shooting pain in left side in shoulder could it be due to my accident I had numbness all started from then