If a nerve gets pinched for a short duration, no permanent damage occurs. Once the pressure gets relieved, normal functioning of the nerve is resumed. But, if the pressure remains for a long time, then there is a possibility of the nerve getting permanently damaged.
Pinched nerve is a painful condition in which, the nerves that extend outwards from the brain and spinal cord get pinched or compressed due to various reasons. The level of pain caused can be from no-pain to severe pain, and it can be temporary or long-lasting. It is recommended to get an early diagnosis done, if you start experiencing some discomfort/pain in the hip area, so that the treatment time required will be shorter, and the relief will be immediate. In some situations, reversing the damage caused by a pinched nerve may not be possible, but relief can be sought by some medications. In others, however, undergoing a surgery might be the only solution.
- A pinched nerve can be caused, when it gets pressed between tissues such as bones, ligaments or tendons.
- Holding the body in the same position for extended periods of time can cause a pinched nerve.
- If a particular nerve remains compressed for a long period or gets damaged, it may cause the protective fluid around the nerve to break, which may eventually start building up and creating extra pressure.
- A bone spur i.e., a pointed tiny outgrowth of bone, may cause an injury to the nearby nerve and may cause it to pinch or compress.
- Lumbar stenosis is a condition in which the openings on the spinal canal through which the nerves exits the spine, are narrowed, and thus causes compression of the exiting nerves, which causes pain.
- A spinal disc that weakens or tears is called a herniated disc, and it can also cause a pain in the hip due to the pressure it puts on the exiting spinal nerve.
In a pinched nerve case, sometimes pain in the hip region is the only experienced symptom but there can be other symptoms also minus the pain.
- General numbness surrounding the nerve, stiffness and weakness are experienced as accompanying symptoms in a pinched nerve condition.
- Paresthesia is a common symptom of this condition. Paresthesia is the feeling of pins and needles, tingling and burning sensations in the affected area.
- Sometimes, pain in the lower back radiates to the legs, which can cause pain while walking. This is known as sciatica. Movement, in general, becomes quite painful. The sciatic nerve can also get pinched due to herniated discs.
- In some cases, the symptoms worsen or the pain gets exaggerated with certain activities like bending down or stretching over.
You can get an X-ray done to find out the cause of a pinched nerve, but if the symptoms are severe, then an exhaustive screening such as an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can be undergone to find the root cause of the problem.
A pinched nerve treatment will vary depending on the cause of nerve compression and severity of the damage it has caused. Resting the injured area and avoiding activities that can flare up the pain can be a simple way to keep discomfort at bay. It is highly recommended to see a doctor, if you experience severe or persistent pain in the hip or surrounding region.
The treatment mainly aims at two things
- To reduce the inflammation and pain using some NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), oral corticosteroids, narcotics and steroid injections.
- In case the condition is severe and not responding to any type of treatment, a surgery can be sought in which the material that is pressing on the nerve is removed and the nerve gets decompressed.
This treatment is provided by physiotherapists who try to alleviate the pressure on the pinched nerve. Sometimes, a brace or a splint is prescribed to remove the stress off the affected nerve in the hip. It allows the muscles to rest for brief periods, but the disadvantage of using it is that it limits free motion.
It is observed that a major reason for pinched nerve pain in the hip is the tightening of the piriformis muscle located in the lower back, which places pressure on the sciatic nerve. Exercise can, up to a certain extent, relieve the pain, and a piriformis stretch is a highly recommended exercise for the same.
Exercise to Release Stress
Sit straight in a chair and keep your feet flat on the floor. If the pain is on the right side of your hip, lift your right ankle and place it on your left knee in such a way, that your anklebone should lie a little above the kneecap. Let your right knee fall out as much as possible, and then try to lean forward as much as you can. You will start feeling a stretch in the right side of the lower back and outer hip. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds and release slowly.
In order to prevent a pinched nerve pain, especially in the hip, always take care of the following.
- Do not stand or sit in the same position for a long period of time. In case of sedentary jobs, make sure you take breaks while you work and take a walk.
- Obesity can be one of the reasons for compressed nerves. Therefore, incorporating strength and flexibility exercises in your life can go a long way in keeping a check on your weight.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.