Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment for Pinched Nerves

Man needs chiropractic treatment for pinched nerves.

The term “pinched nerve” has become a bit of a misnomer when used to describe general neck and back pain. Chiropractic physicians regularly see patients who believe their neck and back pain is caused by a pinched nerve when this isn’t always the case.

A pinched nerve occurs when a disc or vertebral bone spur directly compresses a nerve, causing significant pain, possibly radiating pain that feels like an electrical sensation traveling down the arms or legs. This condition is found only in a small percentage of people who visit a chiropractor each year. In reality, only 5% of the general population with pain will suffer from a pinched nerve. 

This article will explain what a pinched nerve is, why it occurs, and how spinal misalignment can contribute to its development. We’ll also explain how the condition is diagnosed and how treatment can prevent spinal misalignment from progressing to the point where a pinched nerve develops.

What Is a Pinched Nerve?

So, what exactly is a pinched nerve? A pinched nerve occurs when surrounding tissue, such as bone, disc, muscle, or tendons, presses down and applies increased pressure to a nerve. When a nerve is compressed, it can cause severe pain, tingling, numbness, and even muscle weakness in a person’s body and extremities.

A pinched nerve is the result of the body’s reaction to internal damage caused by micro-injury to a nerve. This can result in significant pain and inflammation and can cause the body to assume a tense guarded posture.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Numbness or decreased sensation in areas supplied by the nerve
  • Sharp, aching, or burning pain that may radiate outward
  • Tingling, pins, and needles (paresthesia)
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area
  • Frequent sensations that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”

When a person wakes up with a kink in their neck and has not previously been injured, it is likely their pain is due to spinal misalignment rather than a pinched nerve. There can be inflammation, pain, and tense muscles (guarded posture) even without a pinched nerve. It’s important to understand that pain symptoms often attributed to this condition are commonly caused by small spinal misalignments that do not involve actual nerve compression. 

Long-term, chronic spinal misalignment caused by poor posture and previous injury can cause long-term inflammation that irritates the joint. And, when inflammation is high in this area, it can also irritate the nerve. At this point, the body will show warning signs like pain and may contract muscles into a protective, guarded position.

Considering chiropractic treatment for pinched nerves.

Causes of Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves occur when a nerve is subjected to excessive pressure (compression), which can be caused by surrounding tissue, such as bone spur or herniated disc that compresses a nerve root in the spine or spinal cord directly. Muscles and tendons can also cause conditions outside of the spine. One condition is called peripheral entrapment.

If a person experienced an injury, it is possible that their injury caused a tear to the annular fibers of the disc, also known as an annular fissure. When a disc herniation or bulge progresses over time, the body can respond with inflammation and swelling around the nerve root, causing pain and radiating symptoms.

Pinched nerves are commonly caused by degeneration of the bone over time. They occur when a bone spur forms due to unbalanced pressure (poor posture) over time, very close to the nerve and presses against it. Compression is most common in the area where the nerve exits the vertebral foramen. Vertebral bones and discs can also encroach on the spinal cord in advanced stages.

Chiropractic care aims to keep spinal misalignment from progressing to this stage. It’s critical to pay attention to early warning signs of pain and see your doctor if you suspect you have this condition. Early treatment can prevent spinal misalignment from developing into a pinched nerve. When a patient does not seek early treatment, the chances of progression are high.

Diagnosing a Pinched Nerve

If you have compressed or bulging discs, previous spine and joint injuries, or suspect that your pain is caused by spinal misalignment or a pinched nerve, it is critical you get an examination to determine the root cause of the pain and consider how comprehensive chiropractic treatment can help.

To determine the severity of your condition, consult a chiropractor. During your evaluation, your doctor will recommend x-rays to look for signs of misalignment and bone spurs and perform a measurement of your spinal curvature, as these measurements are directly related to nerve function and disc pressure. Natural, healthy curvature places very little pressure on discs and allows the nerve to function properly along its pathway.

If your doctor suspects you suffer from a pinched nerve, you may undergo tests such as an MRI. More invasive tests, such as a nerve conduction study, may be required when a patient loses motor control.

These tests may include:

  • X-rays: These images will show your doctor how your bones are aligned and whether there is any narrowing or damage that could lead to a pinched nerve.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This imaging technique utilizes strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed view of your body in multiple planes. To rule out nerve root compression, this test may be recommended.
  • Nerve conduction study: Using electrodes placed on the skin’s surface, this test will measure electrical nerve impulses and muscle and nerve function. When small currents pass through the nerve, electrical impulses and signals are measured to determine if a nerve is damaged.

Chiropractic Treatment of Pinched Nerves

If you believe you’re suffering from a pinched nerve and want to receive chiropractic treatment, you must first have a physical exam. At PostureWorks, your chiropractor will review your medical history and assess your specific symptoms to rule out underlying causes of your pain, such as inflammation, injury, abnormal spinal curvature, and other spinal problems.

When a person’s spinal misalignment is severe, with more curvature lost and more pressure on the nerve, many standard treatments, like muscle therapy and exercise are ineffective in providing long-term pain relief. To achieve long-term benefits and properly treat the underlying issues of spinal misalignment, more advanced treatment may be required.

Suggested chiropractic treatments include:

  • Chiropractic Adjustments: When an individual suffers from only small misalignments in spine segments, experiencing muscle tension and inflammation, chiropractic adjustments are an excellent treatment for increasing mobility, improving circulation to the nerve, and reducing inflammation. In fact, in these cases, a patient can see up to 75% faster results with chiropractic treatment. 
  • Chiropractic BioPhysics®: Advanced treatment is needed to address the underlying cause of pinched nerves and to restore natural spinal curvature. This treatment includes several therapies, such as spinal traction, to restore ligaments that influence the shape of spinal curvature so that a patient can maintain correct posture. Additional therapies, such as neuromuscular reeducation and exercise, will be required to retrain and strengthen the body to support good posture and a healthy spinal curvature.

PostureWorks—Get Treatment with Chiropractic BioPhysics®

Patients seeking chiropractic care may mistakenly believe they have a pinched nerve. Pain in the neck, upper, mid, or lower back is commonly misattributed to a pinched nerve. The problem is usually not caused by a pinched nerve at all, but rather involves the joints, inflammation, and the body’s natural response of muscle guarding. In these cases, chiropractic adjustments can help.

It’s important to pay attention to your body’s pain responses and symptoms. It is not normal to awaken with a stiff neck that limits mobility, with or without tingling, numbness, or pain in the arms or lower extremities. If you’re experiencing symptoms you suspect could be caused by a pinched nerve, consult with our chiropractors at PostureWorks to achieve long-term relief and prevent spinal misalignment from worsening. Spinal misalignment has a progressive nature that should always be taken seriously.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. Our Posture And Spinal Alignment Care Plans are adapted from the Chiropractic BioPhysics® evidence-based research. Over 30 years of research and 250+ peer articles all conclude that to achieve not just short-term pain relief but also lasting improvements for patients, there are three main types of treatment necessary: Postural Exercise, Neuro-Muscular Reeducation, and Spinal Alignment Traction. 

If you’re seeking chiropractic treatment for pinched nerves or would like to schedule an appointment at PostureWorks, contact us today!

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