Nerves - like discs - often inspire fear in people. Yes, they can be injured just like other structures, but nerve problems are not necessarily more severe than other types of orthopedic problems.
We temporarily impact nerves all the time, stretching them and compressing them just like other structures. You bang your funny bone and your arm throbs for a minute. You sit on your leg and your leg and foot go to sleep for a few minutes. These examples teach us both how resilient nerves can be and how irritation and compression can create symptoms. (Perhaps even more importantly, they teach people that nerves can send symptoms away from where the root of the problem is.) Understanding how your body works is the first step in mitigating fear when something goes wrong.
Most nerve irritation problems I see stem from the nerves being irritated near the spine. These irritations create variable symptoms; it can feel like the numbness and tingling you feel when you compress a peripheral nerve in your arm or leg or it can be pain, tightness, heat, etc. Nerves serve the very important role of relaying information and sensation throughout your body, and, like other structures, they can usually heal given the right environment.
I sat at a performance years ago with my legs crossed for at least 30 minutes without moving. When I went to get up I almost fell because there was little power in my ankle muscles nor was there great sensation. I realized what had happened and I wasn’t afraid. On the contrary, I thought it was really fascinating how I couldn’t lift my foot up at all. I expected it to resolve in 15 minutes or so and it did. I often remember that incident when I happen to be sitting with my legs crossed, the back of one knee over the other.
Big picture: don’t be afraid when it comes to nerves. If they get compressed or irritated wherever in the body, most of the time, by removing the compression (typically with movements) and by giving it an environment to heal, it will heal. To be clear, many neurological symptoms (having to do with nerves) are not orthopedic in nature, but they too can usually be fixed if you get the correct diagnosis. --Laura
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