Pinched nerves can be extremely painful, leading a patient to consider medical treatments and drugs to resolve the problem. Chiropractic care, however, can be an extremely beneficial therapy that is both non-invasive and free of side-effects.
What are Pinched Nerves?
Compressed nerves (also known as pinched nerves) involve injury or damage to a nerve or nerves. The cause can be from constriction, stretching, or compression. Patients experience “pins and needles”, numbness, burning, or pain. It can range from feeling a hand or foot “fall asleep” to another condition, such as tennis elbow or peripheral neuropathy. Usually, a patient can recover. In some cases, however, there is irreversible damage.1 There are many injuries that can result from pinched nerves. For example, herniated disks in the spine can travel down the leg to cause sciatica pain. A wrist nerve that is pinched can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.2 The term “radiculopathy” may be used when “one or more nerves are affected and do not work properly (a neuropathy)”. This can lead to pain and numbness of muscles. The problem originates in the spine, along the “root of the nerve”, but this pain radiates out. One example would be a neck impingement that can cause forearm weakness. Another would be a lower back impingement which leads to foot issues.3
For most people, rest and a few other medications can relieve the pinched nerve. For some, surgery is the answer.4 Common treatment include anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. This only masks the problem and can lead to side effects with long term use. Surgery is risky and invasive. These may not even resolve the problem, and surgery carries risks of infections or other complications. Multiple surgeries can even occur.5
Chiropractic follows a holistic philosophy that tries to resolve the underlying cause of the problem, without medications, surgeries, and side-effects. A chiropractor may begin by scanning the spine and nervous system to find the “exact location of the pinched nerves”. Adjustments, therapy, exercises, and rehabilitation may all be incorporated into the patient’s treatment plan.6 For some patients, the nerve is the only part that is “pinched”. For others, there can also be nerves that are “stuck to surrounding soft tissues”, due to repetitive stress injuries, and this is called a “trapped nerve”. In general, chiropractors adjust the patient with “directed and controlled pressure to restore joints to a normal…motion”. Additional treatment methods might include “the McKenzie protocol and Cox Flexion/Traction” to reshape the “spinal disc with sustained pressure” and elongate or bend the spine on a specialized chiropractic table.7 When treated properly, patients can have their subluxations resolved.8 Chiropractic can adjust pressure points to reduce nerve constrictions and relax muscles that are causing inflammation and pain. They can assist patients in maintaining their overall health, once the acute pain is resolved.9