Pinched nerves are a painful experience that occur when too much compression is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissue. Those who are most likely to experience a pinched nerve are people in their 50s, people who exercise on a daily basis (like athletes), and those who perform heavy labor (like construction workers). Why are these people more susceptible than others to getting a pinched nerve?
Can a pinched nerve be treated? Is chiropractic care a viable treatment for pinched nerves? To answer these questions, we must first identify the causes and the symptoms of a pinched nerve.
Causes of a Pinched Nerve
As mentioned above, pinched nerves occur when too much compression is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissue. In some cases, the compressed tissue might be bone or cartilage (e.g. herniated spinal disk). In other cases, muscles or tendons may be the cause of the issue. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing numbness, pain, tingling, or weakness.
A pinched nerve can occur at a number of sites in your body. For example, a herniated disk in your lower spine may put pressure on a nerve root. This will cause pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Likewise, a pinched nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).
There are a number of conditions that may cause tissue compression on a nerve(s). These include, but are not limited to:
- Repetitive work stress
- Sports activities
With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. Once the pressure is relieved from the nerve, the nerve’s function returns to normal. So permanent damage is easy to avoid with a short-term pinched nerve. If the pressure is persistent and continues on, chronic pain and permanent nerve damage might occur. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to relieve pain from a pinched nerve.
Symptoms of Pinched Nerves
Here are the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve:
- Frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”
- Intense headaches or migraines
- Lower back pain
- Outward radiating pain
- Neck pain
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve
- Pain going down the arms or legs
- Pain throughout the spine
- Sharp, aching or burning pain
- Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
- Weakness in the affected area during any activity
Chiropractic Treatment for a Pinched Nerve
Chiropractic treatment is a natural and non-invasive way to treat numerous conditions. With its focus on the musculoskeletal structure and a hands-on approach to treatment, chiropractic adjustments allow the body to start to heal naturally within minutes.
In chiropractic care, a pinched nerve refers to a subluxation or misalignment of the spine which causes nerve irritation or pressure. Chiropractic care is a very effective treatment for this issue as it concentrates on spinal adjustments to help resolve the issue.
When a patient comes in with a pinched nerve, the chiropractor first diagnoses it by performing a detailed neurological, orthopedic, and physical examination. An X-Ray may also be utilized to establish the cause and exact location of the subluxation. Once the cause and location are known, slight adjustments to the patient’s spine will be made.
How the chiropractor does this is by applying particular force to the affected part and shifting it in a group direction to release the locked up nerves. These adjustments properly realign the vertebrae. For a smaller injury, one or two spinal manipulations are required. For more chronic subluxations, more sessions are needed and will vary depending on the severity of the subluxation. The end goal of these treatments is to reinstate the pinched nerves’ ability to communicate to and from the brain.
Other Techniques to Help a Pinched Nerve
Chiropractic care is the most effective method for treating a pinched nerve. But there are other methods and techniques that can aid in resolving this issue. Your chiropractor might recommend some of these along with recommending some lifestyle changes as well. So here are some of the methods and techniques that can also aid in relieving your pinched nerve.
One of the solutions the chiropractor might suggest is massage therapy. This solution will most likely be suggested when the pain is mild. Mild pain allows for more alternative treatment options, such as massage therapy. So if you can, try to address the issue before the pain worsens.
The big advantage of massage therapy is that no surgery is involved. It offers pain relief and muscle relaxation, in turn, helping the body work its way toward its own recovery. Massage therapy mostly helps the pinched nerve area, yet also relieves pain in surrounding areas caused by the restricted nerve.
One technique a chiropractor might use is Flexion-Distraction Therapy. The aim of this therapy is to increase spinal movement to help resolve disc bulges and herniations. This treatment is excellent for those experiencing extreme pain because it’s a non-force procedure that takes pressure off dysfunctional or injured spinal nerves.
This treatment is also a great fit to create movement in patients who cannot move well anymore. It is used for patients who find moving too painful or are remarkably deconditioned. By creating a gentle force through the spine, the vertebral disc is pulled back toward the center, being put back into its proper place.
Benefits of Flexion-Distraction Therapy
- Decreases the annular tension exerted on annular nerves and fibers
- Ensures the nucleus pulposus recovers its central position within the fibers
- Gets rid of the irritation in the spinal nerve
- Helps return the vertebral joints to their original healthy motion before the incident that caused the pain
- Increases the height of the intervertebral disc, in turn, increasing its circulation.
- Relieves pain and improves posture and motion
Resolving the issue of a pinched nerve is the best way to ensure your body continues to function optimally and without pain. With just a few treatments you can say goodbye to that pinched nerve and hello to a life of improved mobility! So make an appointment with Dr. Mark Silverman and his team for all your pinched nerve and other chiropractic needs!