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A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness.
It can occur at several sites in your body. In your wrist it can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome). With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. Rarely is surgery needed to relieve pain from a pinched nerve.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve are numbness in the area supplied by the nerve, sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward, tingling, “pins and needles” sensations, muscle weakness in the affected area and frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”. These symptoms may be worse when sleeping. Seek medical attention if symptoms last for several days and don’t respond to self-care measures, such as rest and pain relievers.
If the pinched nerve doesn’t improve after several weeks to a few months with conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to take pressure off the nerve. The type of surgery varies depending on the location of the pinched nerve.Surgery may entail removing bone spurs or a part of a herniated disc in the spine, for example, or severing the carpal ligament to allow more room for the nerve to pass through the wrist.
Pinched nerves are usually caused by either a bony impingement, meaning there might be a joint that is pressing on the nerve, or, in many cases a bulging disc, herniated disc, or tight muscles. Chiropractic treatment relieves pressure off the nerve and offers relief from pinched nerve pain. A pinched nerve doesn’t only have local pain. One in the neck can radiate down the arm, or another in the low back may radiate into the leg. Chiropractors can help relieve these pains by repositioning the bones, relaxing the muscles, and reducing the pressure on nerves.
Physical Therapy Approach
A physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve. They may also recommend modifications to activities that aggravate the nerve.
Exercises may strengthen the back or core muscles and decrease or eliminate pressure on a nerve root. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen could be helpful. Injections of corticosteroids may also be beneficial for many types of pinched nerves. Resting the affected area is often very effective, especially in cases of injury caused by repetitive activities.