When patients tell me about a "pinched nerve" they are often visualizing a hard bone pinching and pressing down a soft nerve. However, that's not what really happens. Your nerves don't really get "pinched" - so what are we really talking about?
It's not the vertebra that is actually pinching, but rather the vertebra out of alignment creates a hostile environment. The surround tissues become inflamed, which can lead to swelling and irritation at the nerve. It doesn't take much pressure for the nerve to become affected in a way that will cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, or tingling. In many cases, it's the irritated or herniated disc that leads to pressure on the nerve.
Pinched nerves can occur in any of the regions of the spine. This can be more accurately referred to as a radiculopathy. Once the nerve is affected, you may experience symptoms anywhere along the entire nerve pathway. It's not uncommon for a pinched nerve to cause neck pain that radiates down one or both of your arms or low back pain that radiates down your legs.
A pinched nerve can be painful, but a combination of ice, avoiding painful movements or activities, chiropractic care, stretches, exercises, and spinal decompression can help you experience a full recovery.
You’ll want to visit a healthcare provider about your pinched nerve if it’s not responding to conservative treatment at home. To find the source of the pinched nerve, our doctors will perform a thorough spinal examination. We will evaluate range of motion and perform orthopedic and neurological tests to determine which part of your spine is affected.
Once your doctor has determined that a nerve has been affected and it can be treated in our office, we will approach it several ways.
While ice is primarily for new injuries, we have seen positive effects in dealing with many types of inflammation. Adding heat may feel good while it's on, but it can cause the spinal discs and surrounding tissues to swell, which will only increase your symptoms. Rest is also a factor, or more appropriately, avoiding the activities that are aggravating the condition. In the case of typing on the computer, you may not be able to stop doing the activity but you can modify how you do it.
Since most of our patients work at a computer all day, we tend to educate around those types of activities. However, any repetitive action will eventually cause an imbalance. Take a look at your average day and look for activities that you do repeatedly or for extended periods. For computer screens, make sure they are high enough and that your work station is set up correctly. Any activities you do frequently will likely need some type of counter movement, like a stretch or exercise. Your chiropractor can help you with addressing your spinal imbalances and coming up with a home exercise program to bring your spine back into balance.
For posture related problems that may lead to a pinched nerve, you'll either be stretching the area or strengthening it. For your neck, you'll need to stretch the front part of your neck and strengthen the back. For your lower back, you'll want to strengthen the back and improve your core while stretching your hamstrings and hip rotators.
While the nerve may not be technically "pinched" there's definitely pressure. Losing height in the discs between the vertebrae will only create more pressure a.k.a. "compression." Taking pressure of the nerves and discs with spinal decompression therapy goes a long way in helping your inflamed nerve problem. Spinal decompression can be performed on the neck and the low back to target the specific nerve roots that are causing your symptoms.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers will only mask the symptoms you're experiencing without treating its root cause. Chiropractic care is designed to treat pain and discomfort by improving mobility in the joints of your body. Your brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system from which every other nerve emanates. When the bones in your spine (vertebrae) are misaligned, the nerves send pain signals to your brain, signaling a problem.
We often think the solution is to take a few pain relievers and ignore the problem, but the misalignment remains. Unless the vertebrae are brought back into alignment, the nerve will continue to misfire. Chiropractic care realigns the bones in your spine and allows your nerves to communicate with the rest of your body the way they should. Not only do you experience less back and neck pain and fewer headaches, you feel happier, more energetic, and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.
Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, spinal decompression, stretching recommendations and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment online today.