Pinched Nerve Treatment
Nerves are the messengers of the body, carrying important signals from your brain to the rest of your body, and if you’re in need of pinched nerve treatment you likely have many questions. 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
Common Areas of the Body for Pinched Nerves
While it is common for patients to see a chiropractor for a pinched nerve in the back, treatment may be necessary for other parts of the body as well. Remember, your body is full of nerves that carry signals from your brain and damage to nerves in any area can cause pain.
The most common ares of the body that people seek pinched nerve treatment:
- The cervical spine, which affects your neck, shoulder, and arms
- The lumbar nerve which affects your back, hips, buttocks, and legs
- The thoracic area of the spine, which can affect your front torso and chest
- The ulnar nerve, which affects the arm and elbow
- Carpal tunnel, which affects the wrist and hand
If you experience any of the symptoms below, schedule a consultation with a chiropractor at ChiroCare of Florida.
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.
What Not to Do If You Are Experiencing Pain
If you believe you have a pinched nerve in your back, treatment from a professional is the best route to take. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a pinched nerve there are certain things you should never do.
- Do not engage in strenuous exercise
- Do not lift heavy items
- Do not engage the area with any repetitive motion
- Do not make sudden movements
- Avoid sleeping in positions that put pressure on the nerve
- Do not stay in bed all day
- Do not attempt to “crack” or “stretch” yourself
- Do not assume the pain will go away on its own
Participating in activities that can irritate your pinched nerve further may worsen the damage or even lead to permanent damage. It can also lengthen the recovery time and put you in more pain. It’s best to seek pinched nerve treatment for any pain that lasts longer than a few days or pain that does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications.
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.
What Happens When You Avoid Pinched Nerve Treatment
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.
How Long Does It Take to Heal a Pinched Nerve?
If you have a pinched nerve in your back, treatment can help significantly. It can also help with other areas of the body, as chiropractors specialize in the entire muscular-skeletal system. While a pinched nerve may occasionally heal on its own it can take a month or more. That’s a lot of time to be in pain, and sometimes, the condition can worsen.
If you experience symptoms of a pinched nerve and the feelings do not subside after a few days, it’s best to see a chiropractor to determine if you need pinched nerve treatment. When left untreated a pinched nerve can cause permanent damage to the area it affects. This is because fluid may collect in the area putting even more pressure on the nerve.
With Chiropractic Treatment
While sometimes a pinched nerve will resolve on its own, you can never be sure. For this reason it is always best to see a chiropractor. Treatment will take place over multiple sessions and it may still take a month or so to fully recover. However, it is unlikely that there will be lasting damage. You are also likely to recover more quickly when you receive chiropractic pinched nerve treatment.
Does Pinched Nerve Treatment Hurt?
Many people fear that pinched nerve treatment will hurt, but the reality is that seeking chiropractic care is far more painless than having to go through surgery for severe damage.
In the long run, treatment will help you feel better and you will have a shorter recovery time. However, as a pinched nerve is an injury to a sensitive part of your body you may experience aches and pains throughout the process. Your chiropractor will advise you on how to treat this soreness at home and provide you with techniques that can help relieve pain between appointments.
Schedule an Appointment Today
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.