Nugget 1 “Pinched nerves don’t have to hurt”
“Pinch” – the word can makes you recoil a little. Apply it to a nerve as in “pinched nerve” and it’s not a healthy metaphor. “Pinch” means different things to different people. Scary stuff sometimes –after all, you wouldn’t pinch a live electrical cable. There is lots of scary pinched nerve stuff on the web as well.
We have known for years that peripheral nerves, nerve roots and sympathetic rami and ganglia can be flattened and a bit ratty yet the owner has no idea of his/her battered looking nervous system – kind of like arthritic change in joints don’t have to hurt either, which is something we are more familiar with..
Juicy info to add:
We all have pinched nerves. They do it all the time –flex your elbow and your median nerve almost bends on itself and still works. It probably enjoys the workout.
The reason we sometimes think a nerve is pinched is that they can become sensitive to various stress and mechanical stimuli and they sometimes react with a “zing or zap”. They usually get better with a some knowledge and encouragement to keep wriggling. A true mechanical pinch is quite rare.
This links into Neuroscience nugget 2 “There is plenty of space where nerves join onto the spinal cord”.
The emerging nerve root complex only takes up about one third of the diameter of the space in the intervertebral foramen. Blood vessels and adaptable fat take up the rest. People are rarely told that. It’s hard to squish them and the root complex loves a bit of a wriggle and “floss” to let a bit of air and light in (as an old anatomy teacher told me once).
Here is hoping someone will find the nuggets useful. We have plenty more to come
Neuroscience nuggets are information nuggets – pieces of biological information based on statement or metaphor that can be used as educational analgesia, explicit education or part of overall story telling. We have collected over 100 of these for a book and will release one or two a week with a short description and references if appropriate.
Explain Pain 2nd Ed, the Graded Motor Imagery Handbook and all noigroup courses are all bursting at the seams with the latest and greatest neuroscience nuggets; click on the links to get your hands on a copy or to find a course near you