06 Nov What is a pinched nerve, and can osteopathy help?
A pinched or compressed nerve can occur in many places throughout the body, when pressure is placed on the nerve roots by its surrounding tissue (bones, cartilage, muscles and/or tendons). A person can experience this symptom at any age, but more commonly occurs in persons over the age of 50 due to arthritis, spinal degeneration and the deterioration of other parts of the body.
Pinched nerves are typically found in the neck and shoulders (cervical radiculopathy), the upper and middle back (thoracic radiculopathy) or the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy). Pinched nerves can also be found in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), hands and elbows.
Causes of a pinched nerve:
- Rheumatoid arthritis- as the inflamed joints may apply pressure on the nerves.
- Degeneration of the spinal discs and vertebrae can also apply pressure on the nerves.
- Injuries due to sports or accidents.
- Repetitive motion- such as extensive periods typing on a keyboard or phone can cause stress on the hands or wrists, may result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Obesity- extra weight can cause swelling in the nerve pathway, putting pressure on the nerves.
- Pregnancy- similar to obesity in that the extra weight gained can cause the nerve pathways to swell and place extra pressure on the nerves.
- Diabetes- high glucose levels in the blood is damaging to the nerves.
Causes of a pinched nerve:
- Pain, such as a dull or sharp ache.
- Numbness in the affected area.
- Muscle weakness.
- Your hand or foot “falling asleep” and/or,
- Experiencing a “pins and needles” sensation.
- Time and rest- in some cases taking the time to rest is all the treatment needed for a pinched nerve, as the pain will subside within a few days or weeks.
- Heat and ice- for temporary relief heat and ice may be applied to a swollen area.
- Over the counter pain-relievers (Acetaminophen) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) can help to treat the symptoms. This includes medication such as ibuprofen.
- Splints and cervical collars are to be used under the advisement of your healthcare provider. Splints and collars are used to limit your movement and motion to help the healing process.
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are to be provided by a medical professional to help relieve the pain.
- Surgery will be needed in severe cases when the above options are proved to be ineffective.
Osteopathy is an alternative non-medicinal treatment option for pinched nerves. As musculoskeletal specialists, osteopaths are trained to treat many nerve-related issues due to their knowledge of orthopaedics, neurology and anatomy. A consultation will include the osteopath taking a detailed case history and then thoroughly assessing the affected area. Once the examination is complete, treatment will include the use of techniques such as soft tissue release, gentle mobilisation and decompression of the affected area. Postural correction may also be required. Osteopathy can be used alongside treatment prescribed by your GP.
At OsteoVision, our team of specialists are always available to assist you and offer advice. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your symptoms, have any questions, would like to book an appointment or require more information about pinched nerves.
Call: 03303 904 300
You can also book an appointment online at www.osteovision.life
Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Pinched Nerves: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6481-pinched-nerves> [Accessed 15 August 2021].
ESO – European School of Osteopathy. 2020. ESO – European School of Osteopathy | Trapped Nerves. [online] Available at: <https://www.eso.ac.uk/eso-clinic-blog-trapped-nerve/> [Accessed 15 August 2021].
Mayo Clinic. 2019. Pinched nerve – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pinched-nerve/symptoms-causes/syc-20354746> [Accessed 15 August 2021].