If you’re experiencing radiating or shooting pain, a pins and needles sensation, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness, then you might have a pinched nerve. These symptoms range from uncomfortable to debilitating, and if the root cause isn’t addressed, they can continue for months. Fortunately, chiropractic care is perfectly suited to treat the most common causes of pinched nerves. In this post, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about pinched nerves and how chiropractic can help.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve occurs when you have too much pressure or compression on a nerve. This sends a pain signal radiating down the path of the pinched nerve.
Causes of Pinched Nerves
A pinched nerve can be caused by pressure or compression on a nerve from bone, tendon, cartilage, soft tissue, or muscle. A common cause of a pinched nerve is a herniated disc. When a disc in your spine is pushed out of alignment, it can put pressure on a nerve, which sends a pain signal down the pathway of the nerve.
Where Can You Get a Pinched Nerve?
Where there’s a nerve, there’s a possibility to pinch it but some spots are more common than others—for example, the neck and the lower back. A pinched nerve in the neck sends pain radiating down the arm and into the hand. A pinched nerve in the lower back can cause sciatica—pain that travels down the sciatic nerve running down the back of the leg.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
Symptoms depend on the nerve being pinched and the severity of the compression. However, common symptoms include radiating pain, burning pain, sharp shooting pain, numbness, tingling, a pins and needles sensation, and muscle weakness.
Diagnosing a pinched nerve is difficult for people outside the medical profession because most laypeople don’t know where nerves travel through the body. But a telltale sign of a pinched nerve is that the pain is not localized. It travels down the path of the nerve. If the pain isn’t traveling, then it’s probably not a pinched nerve.
Treating a Pinched Nerve
The main risk factors for a pinched nerve are bodily trauma and repetitive movement. Traumas such as falls, sports injuries, and car accidents can cause inflammation and pressure that can compress or pinch a nerve. Continuous and repetitive motions can also cause a pinched nerve, but it usually happens over a more extended period of time. For example, one bad fall can pinch a nerve immediately, whereas a continuous and repetitive motion can cause tightness and inflammation that, in time, will compress a nerve.
Prevention: How to Avoid Pinching a Nerve
The best way to avoid pinching a nerve is to minimize activities that could cause bodily trauma or that require continuous repetitive motion. You can also practice good body posture. Bad posture puts you at risk of pinching a nerve. This is especially important for people who work desk jobs that require sitting at a computer for hours.
It’s important to note that some causes of pinched nerves cannot be avoided, but they can be mitigated. For example, inflammation caused by arthritis in the spine can pinch a nerve. While chiropractors can’t cure arthritis, chiropractic care can help ensure proper spine function. This can help prevent early-onset arthritis and the pinched nerves that can result from it.
What If Your Job Duties Are Causing a Pinched Nerve?
If a job duty is creating the problem, then you’ll want to eliminate the external irritations as much as possible. For example, if your job requires you to lift boxes all day, then you need to understand that your traps are going to be sore. So when you’re not working, you need to eliminate all other external irritations to your traps.
When it comes to irritating traps, a big culprit is smartphones. The way we use smartphones encourages poor posture. We sit hunched over with our chins to our chests scrolling, scrolling, scrolling for hours. If your traps are already sore, sitting like this is going to make them worse. Instead of being hunched over, you’ll want to keep your chin up and your back straight or leaned back. This will help counteract the tightness from lifting boxes all day and will help relieve the irritation in your traps.
Solutions: Why Chiropractic Should Be Your First Treatment Choice
Pinched nerves respond well to chiropractic treatment. Why? Because chiropractic care is about restoring normal motion and function to your musculoskeletal system. The nervous system is housed within the musculoskeletal system, so when you have an issue with the musculoskeletal system it can impact the nervous system, as well. For example, you might have a tight muscle pulling on a bone, which then compresses a nerve. That’s a musculoskeletal issue, and that’s exactly what chiropractors treat.
Chiropractic adjustments in combination with other therapies like massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, and more help to restore optimal function of the musculoskeletal system.
How Long Does It Take to Feel Relief from a Pinched Nerve with Chiropractic Treatment?
The amount of time varies because every person is different, but, on average, in three to four visits, you should start feeling some change. “Change” can mean the symptoms are improving or the pain and discomfort are changing. Depending on the change, there are different types of treatment we can explore.
How Long Does It Take for a Pinched Nerve to Heal with Chiropractic Care?
Again, this depends on the severity of the problem. However, in most cases, if we’re working aggressively on the problem area, it should be much improved or healed within four to six weeks.
Can a Pinched Nerve Repair Itself?
Pinched nerves can repair themselves, but it’s usually a slow recovery that can last months. That’s why most people seek out care for their pinched nerves. They’re painful, and they don’t want to drag it out.
Is Massage Effective for a Pinched Nerve?
Massage can be part of an effective treatment plan for a pinched nerve. But it’s important to find a massage therapist with experience treating pinched nerves because some forms of massage can worsen the problem. For example, a deep tissue massage right on top of a pinched nerve is going to irritate more than help.
What Should You Do If I Think I Have a Pinched Nerve?
If you think you have a pinched nerve, then you should seek care from a medical professional like your primary care physician (PCP). They can prescribe medications like anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxers, which will relieve the pressure from the nerve. You can also seek out holistic treatments such as chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage therapy. If you’re unsure which is right for you, ask your PCP for guidance.
As a chiropractor, I recommend chiropractic care if you have recently started feeling symptoms of a pinched nerve. But these symptoms can be painful, so it’s still a good idea to see your PCP. They may prescribe an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxer, which can help you make quicker progress during your chiropractic visit.
Smerglia Chiropractic Can Help
At Smerglia Chiropractic, our holistic approach to health and wellness includes non-invasive, drug-free treatment for a wide variety of ailments, including pinched nerves. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you manage pain and discomfort today.