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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!!


  1. Also for got to say i get really bad burrning all true lower back and in to both legs like there on fire.feel like i cant do nothing cos its taken control of my body.

  2. Hi everyone if anyone could give me some advice i be so thankful. I a. 53 year old lady always very fit. Last 2 years i am getting bad lower back pain afection both my legs really bad causing weakenss pins needles weird sensation to touch my legs and then left leg gettings pain shoot down from my left butt. But now my arms are also afected bad to the point i no strenth feeling of weakenss i cant sleep pain so bad feel like i am getting weaker with it to even get out bed to use bathroom i am hardly abel to walk can anyone tell me what this could be also right side my neck is swelled tender to touch.

  3. Hi I had a total hip replacement last year on my left hip caused by oestoarthritus everything went great and I went to a family wedding 10days after,this year I had my right hip done and was doing the excercises and also went to hip classes,at the end of july I got out of bed and bang my right leg was like a piece of concrete and the pain went all the way up to my thigh,i went back to the surgeon and he said that it was either a trapped nerve or an infection, I am seeing him next week for a MRI and a Scan,if I hadent had my left one done I would have thought that it was normal after a Hip replacement,so that’s why I am having to be in sooo much pain,its been almost 6months now and I have a build up of tissue in my left foot now because I have been putting all my weight on my left leg,i am so fed up with this pain.

  4. I have a tingling and buzzing between my rhomboid and shoulder blade on the left hand side with slight nip on my rotator cuff. Gets worse when I sit with my elbows on my knees . Am I doomed ? Docs and sports therapist didn’t help. Any advice please

  5. 5 days ago I got a sharp pain by my right shoulder blade, this has progressed to giving pain in my shoulder and acute pain in my right elbow. I have been taken narproxen, co-codamol and morphine. over he last 2 days I have also taken Diazepam prescribed by my doctor with what seems to be little effect. I have back problems for over 30 years.

  6. since returning from holiday I’ve had numbness and lack of strength in my right arm and hand

  7. Following surgery removing a cyst in my neck I have had severe pain which now is controlled with tablets as that’s all the doctor can do apparently. Had this for 3 years now, have trouble lifting my arms above head and have pins and needles in arms as well as constant headaches. Told have to live with it as surgery too risky.


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