What are Pinched Nerves?
Pinched nerves occur when nerves are irritated, inflamed or damaged, either by impingement between two spinal bones, pressed upon by a bulging disc or encroached upon by bony overgrowth. Nerves can also become “stuck” to muscles, ligaments or fascia due to repetitive motion injuries – this is known as a “trapped nerve”.
It is up to your chiropractor to determine which of these is causing the symptoms of a pinched nerve and to design a program of treatment designed to relieve nerve pressure and restore the body to its healthy state.
What are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
The hallmark of a pinched nerve is numbness and tingling of various parts of the body, depending upon which nerve is compromised. For instance, nerve irritation in the neck often results in symptoms in the shoulders, arms or hands, while similar problems in the lower back can cause numbness and tingling down the legs and into the feet.
How are Pinched Nerves Treated?
Treatment for pinched nerves depends upon the cause of the disorder. If the nerve is affected by joint dysfunction or subluxation (misalignment) of bone, chiropractic adjustment is the treatment of choice, and often results in immediate pain relief.
Disc injury requires additional intervention, including traction to elongate the spine and reduce pressure on the disc. The same type of treatment is used for spinal stenosis, or bony overgrowth that shrinks the exit canal for the spinal nerve. Chiropractic traction techniques can relax muscles spasms and give the nerve some breathing room. This type of traction is infinitely preferable to surgical intervention, and actually allows spinal discs to fill with fluid which takes pressure off spinal nerves.
What About Treatment for Trapped Nerves?
Trapped nerves are nerves that become irritated as they pass through muscles, this is often referred to as peripheral nerve entrapment. When damage occurs to these nerves and their protective myelin sheaths, scar tissue is laid down which leads to adhesions between the sheath and the nerve. Treatment for this type of nerve injury involves a procedure called Active Release Technique, or ART. It is accomplished by applying pressure with a thumb or finger at the adhesion site while moving the body part through complete range of motion exercises, thus the nerve is pulled away and separated from the adhesion, resulting in often immediate relief.