Oh, those pinched nerves! Not quite the same thing as someone getting on your nerves, pinched nerves hurt a great deal more.
What is typically called pinched nerves is actually pressure put on the tissue that surrounds a nerve, or when the nerve is irritated by inflammation. Pinched nerves typically cause numbness, tingling feelings, a lack of strength, and quite often, some pretty intense pain.
Since we have nerves everywhere in the body, a pinched nerve can occur almost anywhere, but common places include the back, neck, arms, shoulders, and hands.
Sometimes, where you are feeling the pain is not where the pinched nerve actually occurs. This can make diagnosing a pinched nerve difficult for the average person.
Recognizing Common Symptoms
Depending on where the nerve is located, symptoms can vary, but pay attention if you have any of the following:
- Muscle weakness. You should always pay attention to any part of the body that appears to have less strength than before.
- A pin and needle feeling. Similar to when your foot or arm falls asleep, this prickly, itching type of feeling is common with pinched nerves.
- A burning or aching type of pain that isn’t typical of muscle pain.
- A very sharp pain, one that takes your breath away.
- Numbness in the affected area.
- A loss of sensation in the area. For example, you might not be able to feel light touch, but you can feel a scratch.
- Your symptoms are worse at night
- Your symptoms are worse when using the affected area. For example, putting weight on the leg or moving your neck a certain way.
How Do I Know if I Have a Pinched Nerve?
You don’t. Unfortunately, other health issues often mimic a pinched nerve. The only way you can know for certain is to see a doctor or your chiropractor.
Do Pinched Nerves Go Away by Itself?
Sometimes. However, when left untreated, they often return over and over again. Why? Because chances are that whatever you did that caused the pinched nerve, you are probably still doing. Unless you receive a diagnosis and discover the root cause, there is a really good chance that pinched nerve pain is going to return.
How Do You Self-Treat a Pinched Nerve?
Although being diagnosed and treated by your chiropractor is best, if you would like to first try to treat your pinched nerve at home, you can try the following tips:
- Change your posture. Find positions that offer pain relief and find ways to stay in that position.
- Rest. Extra sleep and trying not to move the affected area will help.
- Try a standing workstation. The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time.
- Stretch. Gentle stretching can help to relieve pain. Don’t go too deep into a stretch, just until you feel a slight pull.
- Splint. If your wrist or elbow is the problem, splints can help tremendously.
- Ice. If the pain is new, try icing the area to reduce swelling and inflammation for the first 72 hours.
- Heat. After 72 hours or if you have had this pain for a while, try heat to relax the muscles and bring fresh blood to the affected area.
- Elevate your legs. For pinched nerves in the lower back, put your legs at a 90-degree angle. A sofa is good for this. Put your behind in the crevice between two of the sofa cushions and your ankles on a few stacked pillows.
- Over the counter pain relievers/anti-inflammatories. For a short-term solution, over the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help, but be careful to only take the minimum amount you need to relieve pain and never for more than a few weeks. Continued use leads to gastric bleeding.
If any home treatment makes your pain worse, stop immediately.
5 Reasons to Never Wait for a Pinched Nerve to Go Away on Its Own
Your best choice for dealing with a pinched nerve is to see your chiropractor as soon as possible. What happens if you ignore a pinched nerve or if you let a pinched nerve go untreated?
Reason #1: Nerve Damage
Can a pinched nerve cause permanent damage? Unfortunately, yes, it can.
When nerves are compressed or inflamed without relief, the nerve endings can become permanently damaged. This can lead to a loss of feeling in the area, permanent weakness, and in extreme cases, loss of function.
This is especially true of pinched nerves in the lower back. Although rare, you can lose bladder or bowel function because of a lack of communication between the nerve and these organs. You can also lose feeling in the groin/inner thigh area.
Don’t risk permanent nerve damage! See a chiropractor near you for a thorough check-up, diagnosis, and treatment plan and avoid surgery or nerve damage!
Reason #2: You Probably Can’t Heal It on Your Own
In order for most pinched nerves to heal on their own, they need 4-6 weeks minimum of complete rest. Let’s face it, unless your compressed nerve is from something like playing tennis, chances are that you can’t take 4-6 weeks off from work or doing household tasks.
This is why almost all experts will recommend that if you don’t see a major reduction in your symptoms within a week, you should see a chiropractor as soon as possible.
Comprehensive chiropractic care can not only shorten the length of time your pinched nerve needs to heal, but it can dramatically reduce your pain while it does so. Your chiropractor can also provide a diagnosis so if your symptoms aren’t from a pinched nerve, they can recommend a health care specialist who can help you.
Reason #3: It Could Be Something Else
Unfortunately, the symptoms of a pinched nerve can sometimes be something else, such as the early signs of Multiple Sclerosis, neuropathy, and other health issues, especially muscle weakness.
You might not be able to accurately gauge the severity of your problem simply by the severity of or location of your symptoms. Sometimes, symptoms appear to go away on their own, but in fact, the nerve has become so compressed, it has stopped functioning!
This is why not ignoring the signs and receiving a diagnosis are so vital! Any possible neurological damage or problem should be treated promptly!
Reason #4: Ignoring It Can Lead to Other Problems
Ignoring a pinched nerve for long periods of time can lead to more serious complications, including carpal tunnel syndrome, which oftentimes requires surgery to be successfully repaired, damage to the ulnar nerve (the nerve under your arm that leads to your elbow, commonly called the funny bone), which will need to surgically be rerouted, and something known as peripheral neuropathy.
For some people, peripheral neuropathy can lead to problems such as excessive sweating, difficulty digesting food, maintaining normal blood pressure levels, having control over their bladder or bowel movements, even sexual dysfunction.
Not everyone will have these types of problems, but they are not rare, and they do occur.
Reason #5: You Can Avoid Surgery
While surgery due to pinched nerves is not common, it is sometimes necessary. When all other conservative treatments have failed and the pain or dysfunction is severe, surgery will be required in an attempt to repair the damage.
The Easy Way Out
There really is no need to worry about developing complications or worries about surgery if you believe you are experiencing a pinched nerve. A quick visit to your chiropractor’s office will offer you peace of mind through diagnosis and relief from your symptoms through comprehensive chiropractic care.
What Can Chiropractic Do for a Pinched Nerve?
Depending on your diagnosis and your unique situation, your chiropractor will create a treatment plan designed especially for you.
Chiropractic adjustments, which realign the bones of the spine and joints, will relieve pressure on the affected nerve by allowing proper space for the nerve to function. This is one of the best and easiest ways to heal your pinched nerve as quickly as possible.
Other modalities your doctor might employ include:
- Chiropractic Massage
- TENS Device
- Heat/Ice Therapy
- Cold Laser Therapy
- Non-surgical Spinal Decompression
Your chiropractor might also use physical rehabilitation exercises to strengthen certain areas or offer advice regarding herbal anti-inflammatory supplements to reduce inflammation surrounding the nerve.
Keep in mind that pinched nerves, unless due to an accident or injury, don’t occur in a day and they will take more than one session to heal. Allow the treatment program to run its full course, and you will feel fully restored and ready to tackle life head-on!
We hope that you found this article helpful. If so, please feel free to pass it on to friends or via social media.
Those in Anchorage and Juneau love Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab’s offer of a Free 1-Hour massage certificate after a chiropractic appointment. We have helped many people with pinched nerves return to a pain-free life. If you would like to know if that pain in your lower back, neck, arm, shoulder, wrist, or other areas could be due to a pinched nerve, we urge you to call us for a same-day appointment or click here to make an appointment online.
Why should you choose our clinics? We are the only clinic to offer our 3-promise pledge. Don’t waste another minute living with a pinched nerve, call one of our 3 clinics in Alaska today!