Pinched Nerves can be a condition that lingers and creates chronic pain for a lifetime. The problem is that nobody really knows what they are or how to make them go away. Do they go away on their own? Do they require extensive treatment? We are going to go over all of this and more to make sure you are prepared in the event you are facing a pinched nerve.
What a “Pinched Nerve” Means
When we feel pain the only thing we can think about at that moment is how to get it to go away. This is a very common thought process. What we educate our patients on here at Underwood Healthcare is to think not only about a solution but to think about the cause of their pain. When we are familiar with the causes, not only is it easier to treat but it’s easier to prevent.
Our goal is to have you understand what exactly the term “pinched nerve” means. A “pinched nerve” describes something called nerve irritation. When a nerve is irritated there comes inflation and pain. Nerve irritation can be caused by two things: nerve root compression and chemical irritation.
Nerve root compression is what made the term “pinched nerve” take off. A nerve compression is a mechanical nerve irritation. What this means is there is something within the body that is compressing or “pinching” the nerve against something else, usually a bony structure. This can happen from disc protrusions, tumors, and other mechanical obstructions.
Chemical irritation is another cause for the feeling of a “pinched nerve” that everyone has probably experienced. This actually occurs from your body’s natural response to damage. Micro tears within your tissue and muscles cause the body to release acids and inflammation that when left untreated will start to cause nerve irritation. So when you strained your neck that one time what you were actually feeling was chemical irritation from the microstrains.
Now that you have an understanding of the causes for a “pinched nerve” you may have had one and never knew what was happening within your body. Understanding the cause of problems is the first step to solving the problem.
How It Goes Away
Understanding the cause is just the very first step to the solution. It is also important to note that there are the two causes for a “pinched nerve”: a mechanical and chemical nerve irritation. The way these two irritations heal are different.
A mechanical nerve irritation is just that: a mechanical issue that is causing the irritation. The solution to the mechanical issue has to be mechanical. Mechanical issues are often directionally oriented. Let’s use a disc herniation as an example. When a disc is herniated, what happens is a fluid inside of the disc is forced in the direction of the spinal column. What this does is put immense pressure on the nerves against the bony structures in your spinal column. The way to reverse this is to get the pressure off of the nerves. This involves moving the material in the opposite direction to achieve the original and natural placement.
A chemical nerve irritation is reversible but in a different way. A good analogy to remember with a chemical nerve irritation is this: when you sustain injury to an area in your tissue, your body turns a faucet that is flowing with chemicals and inflammation. The goal is to turn that faucet off as fast as possible. Your body’s reaction is not terrible, but when you let it go on for too long it can create some serious pain and problems, just like leaving the faucet on too long.
Now that we understand how to reverse the issues we can identify what actions cause that reversal. This is what we study in musculoskeletal healthcare. Not all effective solutions are good. Some “solutions” are good and some are bad. Let’s discuss how these issues are treated.
The Different Treatment Methods
Nothing is perfect. Healthcare as a whole has learned a lot about the human body and has a long way to go. At Underwood Healthcare we are dedicated to only treatments that will heal problems without causing any negative effects to your body. We call this conservative musculoskeletal healthcare.
There are many treatments that aim to reverse mechanical nerve irritation. A lot of the exercises and stretches we teach our patients are directionally oriented and successfully treat many mechanical problems. Discovering a patient’s directional preference on an injury is paramount for their recovery. This is the physical therapy part of Underwood Healthcare. There is a more hands on mechanical treatment we use that is the chiropractic adjustment. This allows the provider to be able to directly address mechanical issues. We use a variety of treatments to help our patients. Whether it is chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage therapy, class 4 laser therapy, acupuncture, or CBD infused treatments: our goal is to heal the patient and help them prevent further injury.
Remember that chemical nerve irritation is like a running faucet. This faucet is turned on by your body right after an injury. The first 72 hours after an injury is called the acute stage. After that everything becomes part of the chronic stage. The goal of reversing chemical nerve irritation is to act in the acute stage. This makes the treatments to chemical nerve irritation much more time sensitive. This is not to say that mechanical nerve irritation treatment is not time sensitive, but chemical nerve irritation is much easier to reverse when done quicker. The goal is to reverse the inflammation and bodily response. Simply put: we have to convince our bodies that everything is going to be ok. There are many things that are anti-inflammatory, such as CBD products, but the most proven is the RICE method. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Click here to read our blog about how to successfully perform the RICE method.
The term “pinched nerve” has become a huge buzzword in the world of musculoskeletal pain. The downfall of buzzwords is not enough people really know what they mean. We encourage every patient and reader to learn how your body works. When we understand why we are feeling pain, we are one step closer to not being in pain. We post videos on our youtube highlighting exercise and stretches and explain which situations they are most effective in. If you are in the Tampa Bay area and want an evaluation, please reach out to our front office.