Pinched nerves aren’t a single condition, but rather any situation where nerve tissue becomes compressed by surrounding nerves, creating symptoms. You can have pinched nerves in your neck, lower back, hands, legs, or virtually anywhere in the body where tissue like bone, tendons, cartilage, or muscle can press against nerves.
Usually, pinched nerves respond to rest and conservative care. In rare cases, more aggressive therapy may be needed, including surgery, so partnering with Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center can help to assure you take the appropriate steps for your pinched nerve condition.
How nerves get pinched
You may know pinched nerve conditions by other names, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated disks, or sciatica. It doesn’t matter what type of tissue presses on a nerve, it’s the compression that causes the pinched nerve symptoms.
These symptoms aren’t always pain. While compression of sensory nerves typically creates pain, tingling, or numbness, you may feel weakness when motor nerves are the victims. A third type of nerve called autonomic deals with automatic functions, like digestion or respiration. When autonomic nerves are pinched you might have issues with urinary or bowel function.
Pinched nerves can stem from traumatic injuries, repetitive strain conditions, conditions like arthritis or degenerative disc disease, bone spurs, or obesity. Your job duties or hobby activities may increase your risk of tissue strain and inflammation. Diabetics have a higher risk of nerve compression.
6 non-surgical treatments for a pinched nerve
In many cases, your pinched nerve symptoms clear up as the cause of nerve compression heals. When the pinching has a relatively short duration, you can expect full recovery. Extended nerve compression can lead to chronic pain or permanent nerve damage.
You may be able to encourage healing of these underlying causes with self-care, though it’s important to seek medical assistance if your efforts fail to produce significant results. Here are 6 strategies that may help to resolve pinched nerve symptoms.
1. Rest and sleep
Pinched nerves from repetitive strain require that you stop or modify the activity causing the strain. Extra time resting and sleeping can also encourage natural healing of the underlying cause. Sleep is important recovery time for your body, and it may be as important as isolating movement around the pinched nerve.
2. Anti-inflammatory pain relief
Pain medication can help you cope with pinched nerve symptoms and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen may also help to reduce tissue swelling causing nerve compression.
3. Gentle activity
Walking, yoga, stretching, swimming, and biking at modest levels can help keep you flexible while supporting your body’s healing efforts. Avoid movement or activity levels that aggravate your symptoms.
4. Posture and ergonomics
Sometimes, altering your posture can relieve strain on a pinched nerve. Pay close attention to work settings. Slight corrections to ergonomics often pay dividends.
5. Ice and heat
Alternating ice and heat encourages blood circulation, relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Use ice in 15-minute bursts, while heating pads can stay in place up to an hour.
6. Weight loss
Carrying extra pounds can often put a disproportionate strain on some causes of pinched nerves. Reducing even a few pounds can sometimes relieve pressure on nerve tissue.
If you’re not seeing improvement in your symptoms with self-care, request an appointment online or by phone with the pinched nerve specialists at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center. We can help you through more advanced conservative treatments until your symptoms vanish. Book your consultation today.