Pinched Nerves and Dizziness

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A “pinched nerve”, otherwise known as a “compressed nerve,” is a nerve that pressure is being applied to – pressure that affects the function of the nerve. This pressure can be caused by surrounding muscles, tendons, or even bone.

Since nerves transmit sensory information, as well as signal muscles to move, the symptoms of a pinched nerve can vary widely from sensory disturbances such as numbness or tingling, to the sensation of weakness in the affected body part.

A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in the body. One common occurrence of a pinched nerve is commonly referred to as sciatica. When the sciatic nerve is compressed, sciatica pain typically radiates from the lower back through the buttock and thigh.

Dizziness is a vague term that is used to refer to several different symptoms. It can be used to describe a feeling of lightheadedness or faintness. It can also be used to describe what is more correctly termed “vertigo,” or the sensation that the world is spinning or wobbling around oneself. (Either of these symptoms can lead to nausea or vomiting.)

The feeling of being lightheaded is a very common, and also vague, symptom that can be caused by many different things. Usually it is not a serious concern, and can even be caused by rising too quickly from a seated or reclined position.

Some of the more serious causes of a sensation of faintness include heart problems or blood loss. But it can also be caused by such diverse scenarios as allergies, drug use, dehydration, or the common viral illness.

Vertigo is less common than lightheadedness. It is caused by a problem in the brain’s interpretation of the signals that control one’s sense of balance and the body’s position within its surroundings.

Vision and touch are the senses we use to maintain balance, however at least as important are the delicate structures within the inner ear. Hence, disease or mechanical damage to the inner ear commonly cause the sensations associated with vertigo. Labyrinthitis is a common vertigo-causing disease. It is a viral infection of the inner ear.

BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, is a commonly recurring condition in which tiny calcium stones within the inner ear are dislodged and tumble freely within the section of the ear controlling balance – thus sending confusing signals to the brain. The medical procedures used to restore the patient’s sense of balance are a series of mechanical motions that physically reposition the loose pieces of calcium causing the problem. Since symptoms of this disorder can reappear without warning, patients are warned to be cautious when performing tasks that require careful balance.

Merniere’s disease, a disorder of the ear which causes chronic balance problems, is believed to be caused by fluid trapped within the inner ear.

Sources as varied as migraine headaches or the presence of a tumor can also cause problems with vertigo. More worrisome is the vertigo associated with stroke symptoms, or that caused by an overdose of medication.

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