When it comes to pinched nerves, there are multiple ways that a pinched nerve can occur. A nerve can become pinched as it is exiting the intervertebral foramen, which is the opening in the spine that allows the nerve to exit and go to its target tissue. These nerves can become pinched or impinged by a vertebral disc injury such as a bulge or herniation, degenerative disc disease resulting in a narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, space-occupying lesion such as a tumor or osteophyte, or even a tight muscle as in piriformis syndrome.
Another form of a pinched nerve is a peripheral nerve entrapment, which occurs with carpal tunnel, and tarsal tunnel syndrome. In these cases, a nerve is trying to pass through a narrow canal that is becoming even more narrow. This can occur as a result of degeneration of the joints surrounding it, inflammation, or edema causing compression of the nerve. This type of pinched nerve is most often associated with causalgia or burning pain, but it can also lead to decreased function of the muscles innervated by the nerve as well as tingling, numbness, or sharp pain. In carpal tunnel and tarsal tunnel syndrome, the effects are typically local, meaning the symptoms present in the area where the pinched nerve occurs or distal to.
Sciatica is an extremely common form of a pinched nerve. Sciatica presents with burning pain into the glute area and can go down into the leg to the knee or foot. Causes of sciatica include compression while exiting the spinal column by a disc bulge or herniation, compression by the piriformis muscle as the nerve is passing through, etc.
How to know when you have a pinched nerve?
Symptoms of a pinched nerve can include:
- Numbness and tingling along the area that this nerve innervates
- Burning pain
- Shooting pain
- Decreased motor function of the target muscles
How can you help prevent pinched nerves?
- Exercise often, motion is your friend to prevent degeneration
- Avoid inflammatory food
- See your chiropractor
- Stretch or do Yoga
- Avoid repetitive motions (like constant typing on a keyboard) that predispose you to carpal tunnel syndrome
How can Chiropractic and treatments in our clinic help symptoms of a pinched nerve?
Chiropractic is an extremely effective treatment for pinched nerves. Through chiropractic adjustments, we are able to restore proper function, motion, and position of the spinal column taking pressure off of nerves.
Chiropractic adjustments have also been shown to promote healing of the intervertebral discs through imbibition, which allows nutrients and “food” for the discs to enter.
When a nerve is pinched, it creates inflammation within the nerve, this is where the medical laser can be extremely effective in treatment. The medical laser can decrease inflammation of tissues and the nerve itself, and enhance the performance of the nerve. The medical laser is also able to decrease pain in the area of the pinched nerve.
An important thing to note is the severity and chronicity of the injury. If the injury is not severe, a combination of chiropractic adjustments, exercises, and the medical laser can resolve the issue quickly. If the issue is more severe, it will take much more time and may require further evaluation.
Why should you turn to chiropractic for these issues?
- Chiropractic treatment reduces the likelihood that benzodiazepine prescription will be required.
- Chiropractic is shown to be more cost-effective than many other options.
- Neal, S., & Fields, K. B. (2010). Peripheral nerve entrapment and injury in the upper extremity. American family physician, 81(2), 147–155.
- Trager, R. J., Cupler, Z. A., DeLano, K. J., Perez, J. A., & Dusek, J. A. (2022). Association between chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy and benzodiazepine prescription in patients with radicular low back pain: a retrospective cohort study using real-world data from the USA. BMJ open, 12(6), e058769. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-058769
- “Pinched Nerve.” Mayo Clinic, 22 Jan. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pinched-nerve/symptoms-causes/syc-20354746#:~:text=A%20pinched%20nerve%20occurs%20when%20too%20much%20pressure%20(compression)%20is,tendons%20may%20cause%20the%20condition.7