Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve occurs when surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons, put excess pressure on a nerve. This pressure interferes with the nerve’s function and can occur anywhere in your body. 

Symptoms of a pinched nerve include sharp, aching, or burning pain, which may radiate outward, tingling “pins and needles” sensations, muscle weakness in the affected area, and numbness where a foot or hand has “fallen asleep.” These symptoms may worsen when sleeping based on how you sleep.

Common Causes of a Pinched Nerve:

  • Injury and Accidents: Sudden injury from a sport or an accident. Awkward lifting, pulling, or twisting movements can cause a herniated disc that presses on a nerve.
  • Herniated Disk: A herniated disk in the lower spine may put pressure on a nerve root, with pain radiating down the back of the leg. A herniated disc can occur anywhere along the spine.
  • Rheumatoid or Wrist Arthritis: Inflammation caused by rheumatoid or wrist arthritis can compress nerves, especially in joints.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can swell your nerve pathway, putting pressure on nerves.
  • Pregnancy: Water and weight gain associated with pregnancy can swell nerve pathways, compressing the nerves.
  • Aging: With age comes “wear and tear” on the spine and its discs, losing water content and becoming more flattened. The vertebrae (bones in the spinal cord) move closer together and can result in bone growths, known as spurs, which can compress nerves.
  • Daily Life: Jobs or hobbies that require repetitive hand, wrist, or shoulder movements, such as assembly line work, increase the likelihood of a pinched nerve.

(Source: Mayo Clinic & Cleveland Clinic)

What a Doctor of Chiropractic Can Do for You
Your doctor of chiropractic may take one or more approaches to alleviate a pinched nerve:

  • Perform physical and neurological exams to assess the affected nerves. 
    • In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasms. 
    • During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to align and improve spinal function to alleviate the stress on your nerves.
  • Develop a personalized program of care that may combine or recommend more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to spinal manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage, rehabilitative exercises, or something else.

Ask your Chiropractor to see if the following Pain Management Techniques are Beneficial for You:


Poor posture can cause a pinched nerve. Sitting or standing with an incorrect posture for extended periods puts unnecessary stress on the body, especially the spine and muscles. In addition to improving posture techniques, cushions, adjustable chairs, and neck rests when sitting may help relieve pressure and allow the nerve to heal. 

(Source: Healthline)


Regular exercise, including stretching and strength training, may help reduce symptoms and prevent future injuries. Losing extra weight can help reduce pressure on the nerves, and the added mobility from a regular workout may reduce inflammation. Exercise can also help improve your posture, which will help prevent future injuries.

Stretching before or after low-impact exercises can help keep the body flexible and reduce pressure and inflammation near the nerves. Activities like yoga and tai chi may be beneficial for their low impact and focus on stretching, proper posture, and strength. Contact your chiropractor for personalized recommendations on specific stretches and exercises to alleviate and prevent pain.

(Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)


Alternating between heat and ice packs can help reduce swelling and inflammation. The combination of hot and cold increases the circulation of fresh blood to the area, which may help relieve pain.

Hold an ice pack over the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time, three times a day, to help reduce inflammation. Heat pads can be applied for a longer period, up to 1 hour, three times a day.

(Source: Healthline)


Getting enough sleep is essential for healing any injury. The body repairs itself during sleep, so giving it more time to do so may help reduce symptoms quickly. Make sure to sleep in a position that relieves the pressure on the nerve. Ask your chiropractor about the best sleep positions to help alleviate a pinched nerve.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)


People suffering from a pinched nerve in their back may find relief by elevating their legs to reduce pressure on that area. Reclining and placing a few pillows under their knees so their legs are at a 45-degree angle to the body should be a comfortable position that reduces pressure on the back. Talk to your chiropractor about different positions to elevate your legs and reduce pressure on a pinched nerve.

(Source: Healthline)


Having a massage may also help reduce physical pain and stress. Applying gentle pressure around the affected area may help relieve tension, allowing muscles to relax. Chiropractic offices often offer massage services; consult your chiropractor to see what services they offer to book a massage.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)


Apply good posture techniques at work. Creating a more ergonomic workstation using an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, which will help reduce pressure on the hands and wrists, or raising a computer monitor to eye level to reduce neck pain and symptoms of text neck will help alleviate and prevent injuries. 

Using a standing workstation or desk can help keep the spine moving and flexible, which could reduce back pain. Try to take frequent mini-breaks as well. The best way to find the right position is for an individual to experiment with the settings to see which position relieves pressure.

(Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)


If possible, wearing a splint on the affected area can help prevent further damage and help the nerve heal – a common standard treatment for pinched nerves in the hands and wrists. Many people also sleep with the splint on to prevent any irritation in the night and help them sleep. The splint will help take pressure off the nerve.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

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