By Joe Meloni for Shoulder 1
When Texas quarterback Colt McCoy left Thursday night’s BCS National Championship game after just five plays, millions of Americans wondered how a simple hit could so easily injure an athlete.
The play looked fairly harmless, and even McCoy said after the game that he has “taken that hit a million times.”
The latest news about the University of Texas signal caller is that he suffered a pinched nerve on the hit.
A nerve pinches when something – in McCoy’s case, a 300-pound defensive lineman – applies severe pressure to the tissue surrounding a nerve causing the root of the nerve to become inflamed.
No nerve is actually pinched, the resulting pain, however, feels like a pinch in the muscles surrounding the affected nerve whenever they move. The condition can also severely weaken the muscles until it is resolved.
Following the game, McCoy commented that his arm felt numb, and there was no serious pain while it was stationary. This is very common for sufferers of pinched nerves. Very little pain is experienced unless the sufferer is directly using the area surrounding the inflamed nerve.
The recommended treatment for a pinched nerve is rest. Strenuous work or exercise can increase the pain and lead to more severe damage of the nerve. There is no severe structural damage related to the injury in most cases, so no procedure is necessary unless there is severe damage to the nerve and surrounding tissue.
Physicians often recommend the use of an over-the-counter pain reliever, while recuperating. If the pain worsens, a doctor will often prescribe a prescription pain reliever and recommend physical therapy.
Pinched nerves are most often associated with back pain. Herniated spinal discs
are the most often reported cause of pinched nerves outside of athletic arenas. Pinched nerves in the back are especially troublesome because almost all movement affects the spine in some way. Bed rest is the best way to ease pain related to a pinched nerve in the back. Doctors also recommend placing a pillow under the stomach if the patient sleeps on his or her stomach in order to keep the spine completely straight while sleeping.
The most common form of pinched nerve derives from the sciatic nerves – the largest in the human body. There is one on each side of the body, and they extend from the buttocks to the foot. There is no definitive cause for sciatica. The pinching of the nerve between two vertebrae causes most cases. Arthritis can also cause sciatica as the nerve’s passageways become narrower.
A pinched nerve in the back is especially difficult to resolve due the amount of physical activity that puts strain on the back – especially the lower back. The condition is not particularly serious, but making a committed effort to rest for three-to-five days is the best way to eliminate the problem easily.