how to deal with a pinched nerve

How To Deal With a Pinched Nerve

As you get older, it is inevitable that your body will begin to change. Your muscles, joints, and bones may not be as lithe and flexible as they once were.

As you get older, it is also easier to injure yourself. And unlike in your younger days, you may find that it takes longer and longer for your body to heal from those injuries.

One common injury people experience as they get older is a pinched nerve. Nerves exist throughout our entire body. Every once in a while, one of those nerves can become pinched. A pinched nerve is both painful and uncomfortable.

Read on for information on how to deal with a pinched nerve until you can get the medical help you need.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve is when there is damage to a nerve or a group of nerves. There can be many causes for it, such as when a disc, bone, or muscle places increased pressure on a nerve.

Below are some of the most common symptoms of a pinched nerve:

Pins and Needles

A pinched nerve can lead to tingly sensations that feel like “pins and needles”. These feelings can sometimes lead to a feeling of numbness or a burning sensation and usually radiate from the source of the pinched nerve.

Radiating Pain

One of the most common symptoms of a pinched nerve is pain that radiates from the source. Usually, you will feel a concentrated pain from the source, and then feel the pain start to radiate in other directions from that source.

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness is also a common symptom of a pinched nerve. If the pinched nerve is in your neck or shoulders, it may affect your grip. Many people have reported that their arm or hand becomes stiff.

How to Deal With a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve can be painful and uncomfortable. How to deal with a pinched nerve? There are many things that you can do that will help alleviate your symptoms and also help with preventing it from happening again.

Posture

Adjusting your posture can relieve a lot of pain caused by a pinched nerve. Proper posture is crucial for taking stress off of delicate joints. Sitting or standing with incorrect posture for long periods of time may damage the spine and muscles, leading to a pinched nerve.

You need to find the most comfortable position for yourself, whether you are standing or sitting. Using cushions, adjustable chairs, and neck rests when sitting can also be a great idea to allow the nerve to heal.

Ergonomic Workstation

An ergonomic workstation is a workstation that is designed for efficiency and comfort. Things like your chair, the height of your desk, and monitor all contribute to your workstation.

Ergonomic workstations have been gaining popularity rapidly because of various health benefits. For those who spend most of their day in an office, there is a lot of time spent at a workstation.

If you are dealing with pinched nerves, you could try making changes to your workstation. For example, using an ergonomic mouse and keyboard may help reduce pressure in the hands and wrists. Raising your computer monitor to eye level may help reduce neck pain.

Standing workstations have also become popular in the workplace as they can help keep the spine moving and flexible. Mobility and standing throughout the day can be crucial to preventing and treating a pinched nerve.

Sleep and Rest

Sleep and rest are one of the best ways on how to deal with a pinched nerve. Sleep is essential for healing a pinched nerve. The body repairs itself during sleep, so making sure you are getting as much rest as possible will ensure a faster healing process.

If you have the luxury to do so, take a couple days off work so that you can rest properly. Ideally, you should rest until all of your symptoms have gone away.

Overusing a pinched nerve can lead to even more severe nerve damage. If you have a pinched nerve, try to stay away from movements that irritate the nerve. Also, try to sleep in a position that relieves pressure on the pinched nerve.

Massage and Physical Therapy

Getting a massage or seeing a physical therapist may also help reduce physical pain and stress. Applying gentle pressure around the pinched nerve may help relieve tension. Massages can also be very effective in helping tense muscles relax.

Stretching

Gentle stretching can provide great relief for a pinched nerve. It is important to listen to your body and make sure you are not stretching too deeply, which may make your symptoms worse.

Yoga is a great way to relax and stretch. Stretching out the affected area can help relieve tension and pressure. If you experience any pain or discomfort, you should stop immediately to avoid damaging the nerve any further.

Apply Heat or Ice

Applying heat or ice to the pinched nerve can also be helpful in alleviating any symptoms. Heat relaxes tense muscles and also increases blood flow. Heating pads in various sizes can be found at your local pharmacy or drugstore.

Ice can reduce swelling and inflammation. This can also be very beneficial for a pinched nerve. Many doctors will recommend alternating between heat and ice. The combination of hot and cold increases the circulation of fresh blood to the area, which helps relieve pain and also speeds up the healing process.

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

If your symptoms are too painful or uncomfortable to go about your daily routine, then you may want to try an over-the-counter pain reliever. There are many anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or aspirin, that can be found at any local pharmacy. You should always check with your doctor before taking any new medications.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce stress and supply minerals that can help your body recover. Making sure you are eating antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent you from getting a pinched nerve in the future.

When to See a Doctor

While a pinched nerve may go away on its own, it is important that anyone that continues to feel pain after regular treatments or for more than a few days should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Here are a few symptoms that require medical attention as soon as possible:

  • affecting your bowel or bladder
  • inability to grip objects
  • causing a whole limb to be weak or give out

Your doctor may prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory medication, suggest additional testing, or have you see a physical therapist. Pinched nerves can also be easily treated with a minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopic discectomy.

Ready to Feel Better from a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve can affect your daily schedule and routine quite a bit. It may seem overwhelming to figure out how to deal with a pinched nerve.

However, there are many things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms and hopefully speed up the healing process. Making sure you are listening to your body and getting the rest you need will ensure that you will be back to your normal self in no time.

Check us out for more information if you have a pinched nerve or back pain.

lumbar facet arthritis

9 Ways Lumbar Facet Arthritis Can Be Treated

As many as 80% of Americans will experience lumbar facet arthritis in their lifetime. For some, it’s a temporary event relieved by simple lifestyle changes or NSAIDs. For others, this low back pain is chronic, nagging and distracting. It interferes with daily life.

Are you suffering from lumbar pain? There are more promising treatment options than you may realize. Your doctor will help you understand which is best for you.

Let’s explore just some of the many options.

What Is Lumbar Facet Arthritis?

Your facet joints reside between the vertebrae (bones) in your back. Like other joints, facets help you move side to side and back to front and around within a normal range of motion.

The wear and tear of daily activities or an injury can cause these joints to deteriorate and become inflamed. Bone spurs can develop, furthering the problem.

This inflammation can become chronic, lasting more than 3 months. For some, it becomes a lifetime of pain without treatment.

This leads to debilitating back pain known as spinal osteoarthritis or lumbar facet arthritis.

Now let’s talk solutions starting with the least invasive and working up toward surgical procedures.

1. Lifestyle Changes

The least invasive — but often the most difficult treatment — requires you to make a conscious decision to change certain habits. These include:

  • Improving your posture
  • Regular low-impact exercise
  • Stretches and/or beginner’s yoga
  • Reducing damaging activities
  • Eating more veggies, nuts, seeds and fish
  • Taking work/driving breaks

Alternating heat and cold packs during an episode can also help.

Making several small but impactful changes can help your body heal itself. And it can improve the effectiveness of other treatments we’ll be discussing.

2. Home Exercise

Your doctor may put you on a home exercise program. You would learn a set of activities. These will help strengthen certain muscles, lubricate joints and reduce inflammation.

Even if you get plenty of exercise from hobbies, sports or work, these targeted activities are very effective in some people.

3. Physical Therapy

If a home exercise program is not alleviating the pain, your doctor may write you an order for physical therapy.

Physical therapists have undergone extensive training. They have tools and techniques at their disposal to further reduce the effects of lumbar facet arthritis.

They will work with a patient, “listening” to the patient’s body and evaluating it. They can then develop a more custom training program. This program will be performed during sessions with the therapist.

4. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Your doctor may recommend over the counter painkillers called NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These include ibuprofen, commonly known as Advil and naproxen, commonly known as Aleve.

A doctor may also prescribe muscle relaxants if you’re having spasms. Oral steroids are also an option.

As with any medications, long-term usage can have undesired side effects.

Some of the common side effects of NSAIDs include:

  • Stomach upset & ulcer
  • Liver/Kidney problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Uncontrolled bleeding

Because of this, your doctor may recommend limiting or alternating the use of various medications over the long-term.

5. Facet Joint Injections

Also called nerve blocks or facet blocks, these are injections of an anesthetic into the nerves that connect to the joint. These nerves send a pain signal to the brain. By blocking this signal, pain is reduced.

A person can then feel more comfortable as they work to strengthen muscles around the spine. Ideally, over time the injections would become less necessary.

6. Injected Steroids

Some doctors will also use injectable steroids. The results are often very short-lived. But in some patients, these can reduce swelling and inflammation. In turn, the pain is greatly reduced.

7. Facet Rhizotomy

If you’ve tried more conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend this surgical procedure. This may better relieve the symptoms of lumbar facet arthritis.

While under anesthetic, a surgeon will carefully and purposefully destroy certain nerves that lead to the facet joint. Once destroyed, nerves do not heal or re-generate.

The pain signals to the brain are, therefore, permanently disrupted.

First, the doctor will use a diagnostic tool to locate and target a nerve. Then a larger, hollow needle is inserted into the back. A slender probe can then be guided through the inside of the needle. A fluoroscope further directs the probe to a precise location.

Once the probe has arrived, it burns the nerve so that it can no longer transmit signals.

8. Radiofrequency Ablation

A temporary but effective short-term treatment is radiofrequency ablation. It involves the passing of a targeted electric current into the nerve that is connected to the facet joint. This pulse disrupts the signals to the brain.

A nerve treated in this way may remain disrupted for anywhere from 6 months to a couple years.

9. Posterior Lumbar Fusion

Lumbar facet arthritis, for the most part, is movement related. Each time to move, you irritate the joint that is already damaged.

As the name suggests, a lumbar fusion involves fusing your vertebrae together so that your back moves less. Less movement means less irritation and pain.

For this procedure, a doctor will graft small pieces of bone around your vertebrae. This bone acts as a permanent brace. Rods and screws are often placed around the graft because it takes time for a bone graft to fuse and heal.

Having your back fused may sound like a procedure that will leave you walking like Frankenstein’s Monster. But keep in mind that you have many vertebrae.

You will have some loss of range of motion after the procedure. How much depends on the level of fusion you receive. But you will retain most of your movement. And some movement may even become easier because the trouble area has been addressed.

Lumbar Facet Arthritis Treatment Options

These are your most common options for treating lumbar facet arthritis. When you see a doctor, they will evaluate your unique situation and may recommend other treatments.

Are you dealing with lumbar pain? Schedule an appointment. Find out what treatment options may be right for you.

spine pain management

8 Treatments for Spine Pain Management

Can you no longer live with your back pain? Spinal pain is severe. When you start feeling back pain, this could be a symptom of something more severe occurring in your spine.

And if you don’t treat the pain, it can result in bad side effects.

For most spinal pain sufferers, finding relief is almost impossible without surgery.

Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate spinal pain and distress. While spinal surgery is always an option, there are modern medicines and treatments to try before undergoing surgery.

Start today and become pain-free. Here are 8 effective treatments for spine pain management.

1. Exercise

Exercise helps us more than just keeping excess weight off.

When you exercise, you’re exerting motion. This helps restore our motion back to normal while increasing strength and flexibility. For your spine, exercise helps disc nutrition and musculoskeletal health.

If you have severe back pain, try different exercises for spine pain management.

These include aerobic exercises (running, cardio machines), swimming, and yoga.

You can also use resistance bands to increase flexibility and strength in your back muscles.

Exercise doesn’t require an expensive gym membership. There are plenty of back exercises and stretches you can do at home.

2. Massage

A massage is rubbing and kneading on your ligaments, joints, and muscles. Certain massage techniques are used primarily for relaxation, but there are massage techniques perfect for spine pain management.

Spinal pain is very complex and requires special techniques to relieve the pain and improve your spine. These techniques require a massage therapist with a specialty in treating back and spinal pain.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a pleasurable experience — these types of massages can be painful because they’re working with damaged muscles and ligaments.

To truly receive the benefits of massage therapy, multiple sessions are often required.

3. Meditation

Are you stressed out? Stress is a leading factor of pain — specifically, back pain.

This helps pain feel worse, but also makes you notice pain more. Meditation is an effective stress management tool. You’ll learn multiple relaxation techniques that improve your back pain.

When you feel pain, your nerve cells communicate with your brain cells. Your brain processes the information given by the nerves, which causes you to feel pain.

But meditation helps soothe these brain patterns so you don’t feel pain as intensely.

In short, your brain is the source of feeling pain. When you relax your brain, you relax your body.

4. Hot and Cold Packs

You probably see hot and cold packs advertised. These products actually have legitimacy, and the secret comes from temperature.

Both heat and cold therapy have pain management benefits, but for different purposes.

Heat is better for reoccurring and constant pain. Warmth relaxes the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.

Cold is better for swelling and inflammation. The cold helps narrow blood vessels, which decreases blood flow to the source of pain.

For long-term back problems, apply a heat patch or take regular hot baths. But if you sustain a recent back injury, use an ice pack. You can also wrap up ice cubes, frozen vegetables, or use a cold cloth.

5. Electrotherapy

Have you tried the previous methods with no luck? You may think surgery is your only option.

But before going under the knife, try electrotherapy. Electrotherapy helps stimulate the nerves. When low-voltage electrical currents meet with your nerves, they help reduce back pain.

Electrotherapy also helps improve circulation, repair tissues, strengthen muscles, and repair your bones. This is why electrotherapy patients experience most benefits if they suffer from severe back pain or back and spinal injuries.

There are positives and negatives to electrotherapy. Research and weigh out your options before going through with this method.

6. Pain Medication

If you see a doctor for spine pain management, they will often suggest some sort of pain medication.

They may suggest an over-the-counter pain management medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If your pain is severe or your pain is related to a post-op procedure, they can recommend prescription painkillers.

Specific medications may be prescribed, such as muscle relaxers and prescriptions specific to neuropathic pain. You may also be prescribed antidepressants to handle your brain’s pain processing.

If you’re wary about taking prescription pharmaceuticals, you have other options.

Natural painkillers, such as CBD, also help target pain and inflammation associated with spinal pain.

7. Injections

There are multiple different injections one can use to alleviate back pain.

These are administered by a health professional for spine pain management. Popular options include steroids and anesthesia that’s injected into the muscles surrounding your spine.

These injections may also be used to discover the source of pain. For example, certain injections, such as Epidural, treated nerve damages such as a pinched nerve.

Using these type of injections helps health professionals uncover the root of your pain.

8. Surgery

If all else fails, surgery is always an option. If you qualify for spinal surgery, there are many different procedure options. But there are two common procedures: lumbar decompression and lumbar fusion.

Lumbar decompression relieves spinal pain by targeting your nerves. The surgeon removed a small portion of your bone from the nerve. This relieves any nerve pressure.

You’ll usually receive this treatment if you have a lumbar herniated disc or lumbar spinal stenosis.

You’ll receive lumbar fusion if your pain is in the lower part of your spine. This procedure uses a bone graft to stop any motion occurring at a painful vertebral segment.

Lumbar fusion is recommended for patients with severe diseases, such as lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Time to Seek Spine Pain Management

Spinal pain is always difficult. Sometimes, your back aches as you age.

But other times, spinal pain is an indication of something more serious. When you start experiencing back pain, you need to find ways to repair your back or else your condition will worsen.

Fortunately, there are always ways you can keep your spinal pain under control.

Try these pain relief tips and get your life back to normal.

Do you have spinal pain and think you need surgery? Schedule a consultation.