What is a “Pinched Nerve” and what can I do about it?

In our experience, When patients come in with a “pinched nerve” it is most likely an inflamed cervical or lumbar disc caused by an injury to the disc or long term degeneration. Symptoms commonly include numbness and tingling, weakness, sharp or burning pain. Commonly this pain can show up as sciatia or pain down the leg. In the case of a pinched nerve in the neck commonly sharp pain is felt in the upper back on one side or is more severe cases down the arm. Usually it occurs with a decreased range of motion in the neck or low back. This is typically because there is inflammatory response to injury and the motion causes that inflammation to compress the nerve resulting in sharp pain.

There are many options when it comes to a pinched nerve or disc herniation. Chiropractic, Surgery, Physical therapy, getting a steroid injection, and oral anti-inflammatory medication are a few of those options. It is important to realize which are conservative approaches and which are not. We like to say to every patient with symptoms such as these to start with the most conservative treatment and work your way down the list. It is important not to do anything that could cause irreversible changes.   We like to say start at the top of the funnel and work your way down. Once you get the bottom of the funnel or surgery there is no way back up the funnel.

When a patient comes into the office we do a series of tests to assess which stage in the process we are at.  Once the assessment is complete, we are able to tailor a treatment plan to their individual severity. It is important to take a 3 step process to heal these types of condition. We first decrease inflammation and “put the fire out.” The second step is to fix the dysfunction or in other words get rid of the mechanical issue that is causing the restriction in motion. The Third step is to send the patient home with low back exercises or neck exercises to keep the pain from coming back in the future. If a physician or patient jump too quickly from one step to another or get out of order we can cause more damage or prolong the symptoms and decrease the probability of a full recovery.