A pinched nerve, or cervical radiculopathy, is common, with 85 out of 100,000 adults experiencing it in the United States each year. A compressed or pinched nerve results from an injury or swelling. As you age, the risk of cervical radiculopathy increases due to degeneration of the spine, overweight, long periods of sitting, and poor posture. In most cases, pinched nerves aren't severe and resolve independently but occasionally lead to more serious concerns.
What Is A Pinched Nerve and How Do They Happen?
A pinched nerve will send signals such as pain and weakness through your affected area. Inflammation in tendons, cartilage, ligaments and other tissues may be the cause of your cervical radiculopathy. The nerve reacts to the pressure surrounding it, leaving you with additional side effects.
Pinched Nerve Side Effects
- Numbness, tingling, or pain
- Sharp, burning, or aching feeling
- Muscle weakness
- The feeling of an area "falling asleep"
- Severe pain when extending or moving the area
- Reduced grip strength
- Aches when moving positions
How Long Does A Pinched Nerve Last?
Cervical radiculopathy lasts six to twelve weeks in most cases. However, compressed nerves may last longer if you have a medical condition such as arthritis. Other factors determining how long a pinched nerve will last include the degree of compression on the nerve and inflammation surrounding it. It is essential to seek medical attention for an evaluation and treatment plan.
Prolonged impairment is unlikely if you seek medical attention promptly. Long-term harm can occur without medical treatment, including fluid buildup by the nerve. Fluid buildup can create permanent nerve damage. Nerve damage appears after long-term stress on the nerve. In some cases of long-term damage, a surgical procedure may be necessary, but it should be avoided if possible. Invasive surgery can lead to further complications.
Areas You May Have A Pinched Nerve
- The cervical spine (neck, shoulder, and arms)
- The lumbar nerve (back, hips, buttocks, and legs)
- The thoracic area of the spine (front torso and chest)
- The ulnar nerve (arm and elbow)
- Carpal tunnel (wrist and hand)
Conditions That May Cause a Pinched Nerve
- Accident injuries
- Spinal compression fracture
- Hobbies or sports activities
- Stress from repetitive work
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Repetitive movements
A physical examination, discussion about symptoms, and medical history will help determine if you have a pinched nerve and may include more detailed examinations such as x-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or electromyography. Your doctor will create a personalized treatment plan to alleviate discomfort from cervical radiculopathy.
Natural Ways A Person Can Treat A Pinched Nerve
Pinched nerves are not only painful but also inconvenient. The discomfort from cervical radiculopathy may affect daily activities such as doing dishes, folding clothes, or turning your head while driving and can lead to feeling distressed. There are some holistic treatment options to ease the chronic pain of a pinched nerve.
How To Fix A Pinched Nerve
Resting over time will help reduce the discomfort you experience from a pinched nerve. Resting may include having assistance picking up heavy items, taking a break from sports, and changing up repetitive motions. Avoid anything that causes more strain on the nerve. Cervical radiculopathy pain should lower in a few weeks with rest and time. Resting in bed all day should be avoided because it can lead to tight muscles and more pressure on the nerve. Do not try to "crack" yourself because further damage is possible.
Correcting posture and having a workstation that promotes good posture is essential. When you have poor posture, the muscles strain and pressure the nerves. Good posture is important for sitting and standing, and having a versatile workspace will help. Bringing electronics to eye level will prevent the head and back from arching over and diminish the potential for a pinched nerve in the neck. The likelihood of cervical radiculopathy decreases when proper support while sitting is provided, such as lower back support, cushioned chair, and neck support. You may also have a workspace that can be converted into a standing desk. Instead of sitting all day, allowing the body to move will help reduce tension on nerves and increase blood flow.
Ice helps reduce the inflammation and swelling near the pinched nerve, releases tension, and eases pain. Ice packs should be used no more than 20 minutes at a time. Heat can help with soreness from cervical radiculopathy by opening the vessels and allowing more blood flow. Heat should also be used for a max of 20 minutes at a time.
Depending on the location of the injury, a splint may provide support to minimize the pressure on the pinched nerve. A splint is helpful in areas of the wrist, hand, or neck. Splints help release pressure from the nerve by stabilizing and mobilizing the affected area. It still allows movement but limits the possibility of overworking the injury.
Treatments At ChiroCare That Can Help with Neck Pain
ChiroCare of Florida chiropractors examine you for any misaligned vertebrae, which may pressure nerves. A treatment plan will be developed for you, including spinal adjustments or other techniques. Treatment is meant to help alleviate pain and discomfort and speed the healing process.
Flexion/Extension Technique, also called the Cox technique, is used to help herniated discs. During this treatment, our chiropractors use an adjustable table and gentle pressure to balance the effect of gravity on the body. This process is often repeated several times to increase the range of motion, often limited with a pinched nerve. The Cox technique allows the spine to return to its proper alignment, allowing pain and pressure relief.
Rapid Release Technology (RRT) releases trapped nerves through a machine that emits vibrations. This low-level risk technique delivers 170 hertz to the affected area using high-frequency vibrations at short strokes. This technology releases blockages in the body, thus reducing the pressure on nerves. RRT uses five different heads to release tension from various areas. This treatment is pain-free and is completed in about 5 minutes.
For pinched nerves in the neck region, Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) focuses on the base of the spine, also known as the sacrum. Soft tissue manipulation, pelvic stabilization, combined use of spinal and cranial adjustments, and neurological balancing are used to stabilize the spine. This technique is used for poor posture or injuries that lead to unnatural movements.
Limited Location Offerings
The pressure and pain from your trapped nerve decrease by manipulating the soft tissue during a massage. Your body will feel the effects of twisting, moving, and bending through the aging process, and massage therapy helps treat muscle damage and injury from activities. Massage therapy is often used in combination with spinal adjustments.
By increasing oxygen and blood flow, acupuncture alleviates pain from your pinched nerve. Needles are placed on specific areas of the body, known as acupuncture points. The needles often remain in the body for about ten to thirty minutes and start the body's self-healing process. Acupuncture manages serotonin and releases endorphins, which have a tremendous impact on mental health.
If you're experiencing pain, numbness, or limited range of motion, visit ChiroCare of Florida or call us at (877) 216-6206 for an evaluation. Our personalized treatment plan is designed to fit your needs, ease pain, and reduce long-term effects.