In chiropractic treatment, a pinched nerve is a subluxation or misalignment of the spine that causes nerve irritation or pressure. It is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain. Pain, soreness, numbness, a burning sensation and a tingling feeling in the back, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, or feet are signs of a pinched nerve. Chiropractic care for a pinched nerve is one of the most effective treatments because it focuses on spinal adjustments to promote healing.
How a Pinched Nerve Occurs
A pinched nerve refers to the nerve that runs along the back vertebrae. It occurs when the nerve gets stretched, compressed, or constricted due to a fall, back injury, bone spurs, or other trauma to the spine. The severity of a pinched nerve depends on the extent of the misalignment of the vertebrae. Any amount of spine misalignment interrupts the ability of nerve impulses to communicate with the body's organs, tissues and cells. As a result, pain or discomfort occurs.
Any nerve in the body can become pinched, but the neck and back are most common. Everyday movements, such as walking or standing with poor posture, twisting or turning the body awkwardly, or turning too quickly can cause a pinched nerve.
How Chiropractic Care Helps Pinched Nerves
While traditional medical care treats the area where pain is evident, chiropractic looks at the whole body. This approach is especially useful with a pinched nerve since pain might be present in the leg, but the injury stems from the back. Chiropractic care also takes into consideration an individual's overall well-being and addresses issues that might have led to the pinched nerve.
Chiropractic care helps pinched nerves by reducing constriction of the nerve and relaxing tight muscles in the affected area that is causing pain and inflammation. This is done through a spinal adjustment, in which the chiropractor uses his hands to apply direct pressure to the pinched nerve. There may be several pressure points that the chiropractor will work on by moving his hands in precise directions.
What the Chiropractor Will Do
In determining chiropractic care for a pinched nerve, the chiropractor begins with a medical history, including physical activity that might cause back trauma. A combination of orthopedic, kinesiological, spinal, neurological and physical exams is used to determine the location of the pinched nerve. Other laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging may be prescribed to help with the diagnosis of the problem.
After identifying the cause of the pinched nerve, the chiropractor maps out a spinal pattern where spinal adjustments will be made. There are several treatment avenues the chiropractor may take. If the pinched nerve is the result of a subluxation, an overall spinal adjustment will relieve pressure from the nerve. For pinched nerves caused by tight muscles, a spinal adjustment to the specific area is done. Pinched nerves caused by a traumatic injury may be addressed with a combination of treatments, including spinal adjustments along with a flexing table that provides traction to the spine during the adjustment.
Often times, patients begin feeling immediate relief after the first visit, but additional spinal adjustments may be needed to completely correct the misalignment, enhance nerve and joint function and promote healing of the pinched nerve. If a course of spinal adjustments over three to six visits is ineffective in treating the pinched nerve, the chiropractor may incorporate other treatments, such as a back brace, soft tissue therapy, traction, functional electrical stimulation and physical therapy.
If the pinched nerve is in an area that gets a lot of work as a result of daily activities, the chiropractor is likely to establish a schedule of preventive visits and strength training exercises. Besides correcting problems, spinal adjustments help in maintaining the health of your body.