A pinched nerve in the neck, back, arms, and elsewhere can be very painful and can significantly disrupt daily activities. Nerves are surrounded by various tissues, in particular bones, cartilage, muscles, which are sometimes pinched and can compress the nerve. Read this article to know how to help yourself at home and when to see a doctor if you have a pinched nerve.
Method 1 of 3: Immediate Relief for a Pinched Nerve
Step 1. Know what constitutes a pinched nerve
A pinched nerve occurs with some damage and compression of the nerve, when no signal travels along the nerve fiber. This happens in the presence of a herniated disc, arthritis, bone spur, as well as during active activities leading to injury due to scoliosis, repetitive movements, sports, hobby and obesity. Any nerve can be pinched, but most often these are the intervertebral, cervical, carpal, and ulnar nerves.
- A pinched nerve leads to inflammation of the nerve, which compresses the nerve even more and the transmission of signals through it is impaired.
- Poor nutrition and poor health can worsen symptoms of a pinched nerve.
- Depending on the severity of the case, pinching can be reversible or irreversible.
Step 2. Symptoms
Essentially, a pinched nerve is a physical disorder in the nerve fiber system. Symptoms of a pinched nerve include numbness, mild swelling, sharp pain, tingling, muscle spasms, and muscle weakness. A pinched nerve is usually accompanied by shooting pains in the affected area.
Such symptoms are due to the fact that the pinched nerve cannot effectively conduct the signal
Step 3. Spare yourself
After finding a pinched nerve, you need to spare yourself. Do not strain or move the affected area unnecessarily. Tension of muscles, joints and ligaments will lead to further compression of the nerve due to edema. The easiest way to immediately relieve pinched nerve pain is to rest yourself and not strain the affected area until the swelling and pinching has subsided.
- Avoid flexion and other movements in the affected area. Some movement can worsen symptoms, so you should try to immobilize the affected area as much as possible.
- If certain movements or postures cause increased symptoms and pain, isolate the affected area and do not move it.
- If the carpal tunnel is affected (pinched wrist nerve), try not to bend your wrist even while sleeping to relieve pain.
Step 4. Sleep more
An increase in the duration of sleep by several hours helps the body to recover. Increase your sleep each night until you feel relief or improvement. A few hours of extra sleep will provide rest for the body and the affected area, which greatly relieves symptoms.
Sleep promotes long-term immobilization of the affected area. The longer the sleep, the less movement. However, sleep is useful not only for immobilization, but also for rest and restoration of the whole organism
Step 5. Use a splint or bandages
In cases where there is no opportunity to rest and you need to go to work, to school or for other reasons, use a splint or bandage to immobilize the affected area. Immobilizing the affected area will allow you to carry out normal activities.
- For example, if a cervical nerve is pinched, use a Schanz collar to reduce the strain on your neck muscles throughout the day.
- If a wrist nerve is pinched due to carpaline sidrome, use a wrist or elbow splint to immobilize your arm.
- The bandage can be purchased at the pharmacy. Read the instructions carefully. See your doctor if you have questions or concerns about a splint or bandage.
Step 6. Apply a cold and warm compress
A pinched nerve is accompanied by swelling, which increases the pressure. To reduce swelling and improve blood flow, alternate exposure of the affected area to cold and heat, a technique called hydrotherapy. Apply a cold compress to the affected area 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes to reduce inflammation. After the cold compress, apply warm for 1 hour - do this 4-5 nights a week to relieve symptoms.
- Place an ice pack firmly on the affected area. You can buy such a package at a pharmacy or make your own. This will cool the affected area. There should be a soft cloth between the ice pack and the skin. Do not apply cold for more than 15 minutes, as this will reduce blood flow and slow down recovery.
- After a cold, use a hot water bottle (or heating pad) to stimulate circulation to speed up recovery. Do not apply heat for more than 1 hour, as this will increase inflammation.
- You can take a hot bath to relax the muscles in the affected area and increase blood flow.
Step 7. Take a massage course
Massaging the affected area relieves muscle tension and relieves pain. A full body massage will relax the muscles in general, and especially the muscles of the affected area. A gentle targeted massage of the affected area can be used to provide limited relaxation and stimulate nerve repair.
- You can massage the affected area yourself for some relief of symptoms. Gently massage the affected area with your fingers to stimulate blood flow and relax the muscles that are causing the pinched nerve.
- Avoid strong, deep massage - this effect will only increase the pressure and the nerve will be squeezed even more.
Step 8. Taking medications
Most over-the-counter pain relievers do a great job of relieving pinched nerve pain. Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as acetylsalicylic acid and ibuprofen) to reduce swelling and pain.
Read the instructions carefully. Consult your doctor if you are at a loss with the choice of a drug, dosage selection or side effects
Step 9. See your doctor
If symptoms and pain subside but recur after a few weeks or months, see your doctor. If the above pain relief methods are ineffective, see your doctor for another treatment.
- See a neurologist if you constantly feel numbness or pain in the affected area despite minimal movement, or if the muscles in the affected area develop weakness.
- Get immediate medical attention if symptoms are severe or the affected area is cold, or appears pale or blue.
Method 2 of 3: Treating a pinched nerve in the long term
Step 1. Do light exercise
It is necessary to combine relaxation of the pinched nerve and stimulation of blood flow. The nerve needs good blood flow and oxygen to repair itself. Daily activity should be moderate and only necessary to do anything when you feel well. For example, swimming and walking place moderate stress on muscles and minimal stress on joints and tendons.
- Immobility will lead to loss of muscle strength and slow down the nerve repair process.
- Maintain correct posture during work and rest. Correct posture reduces stress on the affected area.
- Maintain a healthy weight to prevent a pinched nerve.
Step 2. Consume more calcium
One of the causes of a pinched nerve is a lack of calcium. Eat more calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and herbs (such as spinach and kale). Taking calcium supplements will help restore nerve and promote health.
- Try calcium supplements. You can find them at health food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies. Read the directions carefully or consult your doctor to determine the dosage. Never take more than the recommended dose.
- Pay attention to labels. Some brands offer calcium-fortified foods.
Step 3. Eat foods rich in potassium
Potassium is a key element in cellular metabolism. A lack of potassium helps to reduce the connection between nerves, and a deficiency of potassium can cause symptoms of a pinched nerve. A diet rich in potassium helps restore nerve function and relieves pinched nerve symptoms.
- Foods rich in potassium include apricots, bananas, avocados, and nuts. Beverages such as skim milk and orange juice can improve the absorption of potassium.
- Potassium supplements should be taken regularly in addition to a healthy diet. Talk to your doctor before taking potassium supplements, especially if you have other medical conditions (particularly kidney disease) or other medications. A doctor may order a blood potassium test before recommending potassium supplements.
- Potassium deficiency should be diagnosed by a doctor. A potassium-rich diet is used to correct potassium deficiency. Consult your doctor.
Method 3 of 3: Treating a pinched nerve with a doctor
Step 1. See a physical therapist
Visit a physical therapist if the disease progresses and the above methods are ineffective. A physical therapist will suggest specific stretching techniques and exercises to relieve pain. Some exercises relieve pain by relieving pressure on the affected nerve. It is very important that the entire process is carried out by a qualified professional.
Over time, a physical therapist may recommend additional exercises that you can do on your own. You should not do any other exercise besides those recommended by your doctor
Step 2. Epidural injection of hormonal drugs
This procedure is usually used to relieve pain when treating a pinched sciatic nerve. During the procedure, the doctor injects steroids into the spinal column. A doctor can recommend a particular treatment method only after a thorough examination and determination of the type and degree of the nerve entrapment.
Epidural hormone injection quickly and effectively relieves pain. This procedure is performed by trained healthcare professionals to eliminate side effects and risks. In rare cases, side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, and bleeding at the injection site
Step 3. Surgical solution to the problem
With severe pain or symptoms that cannot be removed with drugs, they resort to surgery. The surgery helps relieve pressure on the nerve by partially removing the surrounding tissue. As a person recovers from surgery, the pain usually goes away. Recurrence of entrapment is rare.
- When a nerve in the wrist is pinched, doctors sometimes cut certain muscles in the forearm to relieve pressure in that area.
- A pinched nerve caused by an intervertebral hernia is corrected by complete or partial removal of the intervertebral disc, followed by stabilization of the spine.
Step 4. Strive for long lasting results
After symptoms have subsided, it is important to continue to exercise, maintain adequate muscle tone and correct posture, and avoid risk factors. Recovery from a pinched nerve depends on a number of factors, including the degree of nerve damage, treatment regimen, and comorbid conditions.
Full recovery after a pinched intervertebral nerve occurs in most cases. Acute back pain caused by a pinched nerve subsides after 6 weeks in 90% of people treated
Step 5. Avoid pinching the nerves
In most cases of pinched nerves, they recover completely, and most often, with treatment, the symptoms go away. To prevent re-pinching, avoid movements that contributed to past pinching. It is very important to listen to your body. If any movement causes discomfort or pinching symptoms, stop and allow the affected area to recover.
- Talk to your doctor about the correct treatment plan and regimen, and the rest and function of the affected nerve.
- Use braces to prevent pinching of the nerve.
- If symptoms appear suddenly or after injury, seek immediate medical attention.
- It can take a long time to fully recover from a pinched nerve. Nerves are treated from top to bottom, so full recovery can take from several weeks to several months, depending on the pinch site.
- See an osteopath, chiropractor, or massage therapist if you have back pain. A professional will relieve the pressure on the nerve and the pain will stop.