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April 29, 2005

Pinched Nerve

Understanding nerve function is important in understanding nerve pain theories and "pinched nerves."

One age-old premise supporting the pinched nerve theory follows this logic: If a spinal segment is not in its normal position, nerve pathways between the vertebrae (intravertebral foramina) will partially close resulting in nerve impingement.

Detractors counter that nerves do not emit a flow of energy. Since nerves are gland cells, their primary function is to produce and release a hormone that causes muscle cell inhibition or contraction. When a nerve cell undergoes its function of hormonal secretion, changes occur in its outer cell membrane allowing electrically charged ions to move in and out of the cell in a step-by-step fashion along the full extent of the nerve.

Another theory: Acute compression of a normal healthy nerve may lead to paresthesias, motor loss, sensory deficits and reflex abnormalities, but pain is absent. However, if an inflamed nerve suffering intraneural edema is compressed, pain is present. This "silent nerve root compression syndrome" hypothesizes that time is required for functional alterations, such as nerve tethering, to cause mechanical nerve fiber deformation and resulting pain.

So what may really be present in a "pinched nerve" may be inflammation or overstimulation because of postural misalignment.

Posted by linda at April 29, 2005 5:47 PM

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