If you have ever suffered from a pinched nerve, more properly called a “compressed” nerve, then you know how severe the pain can be. Even people who have only endured a mild version of this condition understand that compressed nerves can result in an odd, very uncomfortable feeling anywhere in the body. A common question people have is whether a chiropractic physician can treat patients who have pinched nerves.
In fact, chiropractors are specialists when it comes to compressed nerve pain. Before looking at how chiropractors diagnose and treat this condition, it’s important to understand what a pinched nerve is, what causes nerves to become compressed, what common symptoms look like, and more.
What a Pinched Nerve Is
Compressed nerves are common and can be associated with a wide range of pain, from mild to severe. Whenever displaced tissue in your body presses against one of your nerves, your brain will receive pain signals from the area. What kind of tissue can become displaced? Tendons, muscles, cartilage, and bone or bone fragments can become displaced as the result of injury, disease, overuse, or age.
Your body’s nerve network sends many kinds of signals to the brain. When a nerve is compressed, for whatever reason, the nerve sends a direct alert to the brain in the form of a warning signal, telling it that something is wrong. As is the case with many similar conditions, symptoms and pain can be very mild, extremely severe, or anything in between. When you feel the pain that might be caused by a pinched nerve, don’t ignore it. In fact, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting prompt relief if you seek treatment as early as possible. With pinched nerves or anything else, it’s never wise to delay treatment. Even in some severe situations where pinched nerve pain cannot be remedied, chiropractic treatment can offer relief from the accompanying pain and related symptoms. The key is to seek professional help asap if you suffer from a compressed nerve.
What Causes Nerves To Become Compressed?
There are direct and indirect causes of pinched nerves. Direct causes include things like a bone spur, a herniated disc, or pretty much any condition that results from an injury or other type of sudden event. In addition to these kinds of causes, there are several lifestyle factors that make people more prone to suffer from pinched nerves.
For example, if you are already dealing with osteoarthritis, you are familiar with joint swelling that can lead to bone spurs. In addition, your body weight, hereditary factors, posture, advanced age, and other long-term factors can predispose you to have a compressed nerve. If you have a job or take part in a sport where you use the same joint or limb repetitively, like factory work or tennis, your shoulders, arms, back, and neck can take a real pounding and end up with pinched nerves.
In your spine, you have numerous facet joints. These amazing little parts of your anatomy allow you to twist around and bend your back in multiple positions. If they become inflamed and put pressure on a nearby nerve, you could end up with a nerve impingement that causes severe pain.
Everyone’s experience of having a pinched nerve is different, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- A “burning sensation” anywhere on the body, but particularly in the neck, back, or shoulders
- Unexpected muscle weakness in any limb or section of the body. The weakness becomes obvious when you try to use your muscles and realize you cannot do so
- Numbness anywhere on the body
- Pain that radiates outward or downward into a limb, and which is burning, aching, or very sharp even when you are motionless or at rest
- A “needles and pins” feeling, or a tingling sensation in limbs or on the torso
- Pain in the legs, neck, or anywhere on the lower back region
- The impression that an extremity or part of an extremity has “gone to sleep”
As your chiropractor will tell you, there are many treatment approaches for pinched nerves, all of which tend to depend on the original cause of the condition. The first step, in most cases, is to immediately decrease the pressure on the nerve in question. It sometimes happens that your doctor will perform a specialized adjustment in order to lessen the direct cause of the pressure. Additionally, a chiropractor might use a specialized piece of medical equipment, a traction machine, which can bring heightened relief in cases of severe neck or back pain that’s caused by a pinched nerve.
There are many approaches that your doctor can take when dealing with your compressed nerve condition. All the methods employed by chiropractors offer safe, effective remedies in most cases. Whether the doctor uses spinal manipulation alone or in combination with other strategies, the pain can subside in a few minutes, hours, or days, depending on the cause and severity of your specific condition.
When your pain is caused by a bulging or herniated disc, expect the chiropractor to employ decompression therapy. If your pinched nerve is causing you to have muscle spasms and is primarily associated with displaced muscle tissue, the doctor is likely to use massage therapy as the first line of treatment. In order to deaden the pain of a pinched nerve, one approach is called cryotherapy, which uses very cold temperatures to simply deaden pain and stop it in its tracks. Still, other situations call for spinal rehabilitation, which can include a variety of strengthening and strengthening exercise routines. Spinal rehabilitation has the potential to reduce nerve pressure and thus relieve pain associated with pinched nerves.
- Spinal manipulation
- Massage therapy
- Cryotherapy (the use of very cold temperatures)
- Spinal rehabilitation exercises
Where To Turn If You Are In Pain
You should visit a chiropractor as soon as you suspect that you have a compressed nerve. Even if you aren’t sure and if the pain is mild, any discomfort that lasts for more than two or three days should cause you to pick up the phone and make an appointment with your chiropractor.
Dr. Tim Ciolkosz at Spinal Health and Wellness can help you discover the cause of a pinched nerve and give you the treatment you need to eliminate the pain as well as the root cause of the condition. Whenever you suspect that you suffer from a compressed nerve, give us a call and set up an appointment for an exam.
There’s no reason to let the pain of a compressed nerve keep you awake at night, prevent you from playing and working as you normally do, or spending quality time with loved ones.
It’s important to get treatment early because there are situations in which a pinched nerve can become much worse if neglected. Sometimes the nerve’s protective structures can break down and cause additional pressure to build up. Eventually, an untreated compressed nerve could lead to decreased function, swelling, and further medical complications.
Pinched nerves are serious conditions that require the attention of a chiropractic physician as soon as possible. Don’t risk your health when you can take care of a compressed nerve early and return to full, robust health in a short period of time.