Pinched Nerve Treatment
Nerves are the messengers of the body, carrying important signals from your brain to the rest of your body. When you have a pinched nerve, also referred to as a compressed nerve, your body will send you warning signals such as pain and weakness in the affected area.
If you believe your back pain could be stemming from a pinched nerve, the physicians at ChiroCare of Florida will help properly diagnose and provide pinched nerve treatment.
Causes of a Pinched Nerve
Despite their crucial role in the body, nerves are located in the most vulnerable places. They travel through very narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. The slightest inflammation of ligaments, tendons, cartilage or other tissues can compress the space through which the nerve is traveling.
When too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissue, such as muscles or tendons, we refer to it as a pinched nerve. Tissue like bone or cartilage can compress a nerve root in the spinal canal. This compression disrupts normal nerve function, causing numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain.
Several conditions and injuries can lead to a compress nerve or nerves, including:
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Spinal compression fracture
- Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
- Stress from repetitive work
- Hobbies or sports activities
- Accident injuries
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve is actually a symptom in itself. Generally, a pinched nerve is the result of other injury or inflammation in the body which is putting excess pressure on the nerve.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve can vary depending on where the nerve is located, but typically include:
- Muscle weakness in the affected area
- Tingling or pins and needles sensation
- Sharp, aching, or burning pain
- Pain that radiates into the extremities
- Feeling that the hands or feet have “fallen asleep”
Related Symptoms to a Pinched Nerve in the Spine
Various changes within the spine, such as a narrowing of the spinal canal, can cause a pinched nerve at all levels of the spine. Depending on the nerve’s location, symptoms will vary.
- Pinched Nerve in the Cervical Spine: Causes pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder, arm, and hand. Often referred to as cervical radiculopathy.
- Pinched Nerve in the Thoracic Spine: Pain or loss of feeling in the chest, torso, shoulder, or arm. Also known as thoracic radiculopathy.
- Pinched Nerve in the Lumbar Spine: Pain radiates into the buttocks, leg, and foot. This is referred to as lumbar radiculopathy. When the sciatic nerve is compressed, we refer to the condition as sciatica.
How Can a Pinched Nerve Be Diagnosed?
Diagnosis for a pinched nerve begins with a thorough review of your medical history. Oftentimes, patients with a history of inflammatory diseases or arthritis are the most susceptible to a pinched nerve. Your physician will ask about any current symptoms you’re experiencing and will conduct a physical examination to test flexibility and pain levels.
If your physician suspects a pinched nerve, he or she will likely conduct a few examinations to correctly diagnose the condition.
- Nerve Conduction Study: Uses electrodes placed on the skin to measure electrical nerve impulses, as well as the function of the muscles and nerves.
- Electromyography: Evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and they rest. Results tell if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Radio waves produce detailed views of your body to reveal if you have a nerve root compression.
- High-Resolution Ultrasound: Diagnoses nerve compression syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures in the body.
Pinched Nerve Treatment Options
Treatment options for a pinched nerve do vary from person to person depending on the underlying cause of the injury. However, first and foremost, the most frequently recommended treatment for pinched nerves is to rest the affected area. Likewise, it is recommended to stop any activities that can aggravate the compression. Depending on the location of the injury, pinched nerve treatment may also require wearing a splint or brace to immobilize the area.
Alternative options for pinched nerve treatment include NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen to reduce swelling. Additionally, steroid injections to reduce swelling and allow inflamed nerves to recover may be prescribed.
When nerve compression is left untreated, the protective barrier around the nerve will gradually break down, causing a fluid buildup around the nerve. This can cause swelling, excess pressure, and scarring, which can permanently interfere with the nerve’s function. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove material that’s pressing on the nerve, such as scar tissue, disc material, or pieces of bone.
How Can a Chiropractor Help a Pinched Nerve?
At ChiroCare of Florida, our chiropractors are specially trained in issues of the nervous system and the intricacies of the spine. To begin pinched nerve treatment, our chiropractors will examine a patient’s spine and note any misaligned vertebrae. When these vertebrae are out of place, injured, or experiencing inflammation in the tissue surrounding them, they can place intense pressure on spinal nerves, resulting in a pinched nerve.
Once a pinched nerve diagnosis has been made, the chiropractor will prescribe a personalized treatment plan, which will likely involve a variety of spinal manipulations. For pinched nerve treatment, spinal manipulations are a gentle, non-invasive method of properly aligning the spine so that tissue is not impeding on the narrow space allotted to spinal nerves. When the spine is aligned, blockage or compression on the affected nerve are removed.
Chiropractic Methods Involved in Pinched Nerve Treatment
Aside from spinal manipulations, ChiroCare of Florida physicians utilize a variety of chiropractic methods to properly treat a pinched nerve.
Physical Therapy: Teaches exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve. Likewise, your chiropractor may also recommend modifications to activities that aggravate the nerve.
Therapeutic Massage: Before your spinal manipulation session, a therapeutic massage can help soothe stiff or painful tissue to make the adjustment more comfortable. Likewise, therapeutic massage can further reduce inflammation.
Acupuncture: As part of the pinched nerve treatment, acupuncture helps to alleviate pain and improve neural communication between the muscles, spinal nerves and rest of the body.
Pain from a pinched nerve is a signal that something is off in your body. Listen to that signal. The physicians at ChiroCare of Florida are prepared to help diagnose, alleviate, and treat pinched nerve pain. Contact us today to get started.