Are you suffering from an aching back, stiff neck, or arm and leg pain? Do you feel numbness, tingling sensations, or pain in your arms and shoulders lately?
Well, chances are, that this may be the courtesy of a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve refers to a compressed or a damaged nerve.
Surrounding tissues that press on the roots of the nerves can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in various areas of your body. The majority of pinched nerves occur in the neck (cervical radiculopathy), upper mid-back (thoracic radiculopathy) or lower back (lumbar radiculopathy).
Pinched nerves can also be felt in the hand, forearm, and wrist (wrist carpal tunnel syndrome).
A pinched nerve can be healed through a variety of ways. Here, we’ve listed down the most common ways by which you can heal a pinched nerve.
Sleep is an integral part of healing nerves. During sleep, the body repairs itself, so giving it more time to do that can help reduce symptoms faster. For several cases it’s enough to rest the affected area and get extra sleep to allow the pinched nerve to heal on its own.
It is also necessary not to overuse the nerve when treating a pinched nerve. Overuse will make nerve damage worse. A person with a pinched nerve should avoid any nerve-irritating movements. Also, they should try to sleep in a position that would relieves nerve pressure.
Adjust your posture
A pinched nerve may be triggered or exacerbated by a weak posture. Sitting or standing with an incorrect posture for longer periods of time puts unnecessary stress on the body, which can damage the spine and muscles, leading to a pinched nerve.
Using sturdy cushions, folding seats, and shoulder supports while seated may help alleviate discomfort and repair the nerve.
Use a Splint
When necessary, putting a splint on the injured region will help avoid more injury and help the nerve recover. It is a common treatment for pinched nerves in the hands and wrists.
Sleeping with a splint can be especially helpful overnight so that you don’t curl your wrist in a bad position while you’re sleeping. The splint is supposed to hopefully keep the strain off the nerve and help you have a relaxed sleep.
Use ice and heat packs
Both heat and ice packs are really effective to get relief from a pinched nerve. Alternating between heat and ice packs can help to minimize swelling and inflammation in certain situations.
The mixture of heat and cold improves the supply of fresh blood to the body, which can help to alleviate pain and get relief from the pinched nerve.
You can use heat to relax muscles that may be tight around a pinched nerve. Heat also increases the flow of blood, which can help in the healing process. Keep the pressure directly on the pinched nerve for 10–15 minutes at a time.
Ice packs reduce inflammation and swelling. Wrap a towel around an ice pack and bring it against the pinched nerve for 10–15 minutes. You can find ice packs and heat packs at the nearest drugstore, or you can opt to order them online. You can make one at home, too.
Elevate your legs
People suffering from a pinched nerve in your back can be relaxed by lifting their legs to alleviate some strain from the spine. Make sure that your knees and hips have a 90-degree bend.
There is another way if you don’t have a footstool. You can place several pillows under your legs, so that your legs are placed at an angle of 45 ° to the body.
Make changes in your lifestyle
Over the long term, incorporating a low-impact workout, such as walking, running or cycling, to your daily regimen will help alleviate fatigue and maintain the body in shape. Losing excess weight can help relieve nerve pain, and the increased strength from a daily exercise can minimize inflammation.
Stretching your legs is a great way to lighten some of the nervous pressure. You can even go for a walk anytime you can. It’s the most simple tip to prevent a pinched nerve.
Take over the counter medications
If you are still not able to relieve the pain, probably the last option is to take over the counter medications to heal your pinched nerves. You can take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen ( Advil, Motrin IB) or aspirin (Bufferin), if you want to try painkillers. But before you try any new medications yourself, make sure to check them with your doctor.
When to see a doctor
If your pinched nerve is giving you pain that is severe, persistent, or continues to come back, then it’s recommended to consult a doctor. The doctor may perform some tests or ask several questions about your lifestyle to decide what triggers your pinched nerve.
It’s also advisable to stop your at-home treatments if they hurt you or worsen your condition. Tell a doctor or an orthopedic physical therapist whether you experience numbness or tingling that doesn’t improve or is becoming worse.
Some of the symptoms which require immediate medical attention include:
- The pinched nerve is affecting your bowel and bladder.
- You are unable to grasp things properly and tend to drop them easily.
- The damage caused by the nerve is causing a limb or an area of the body to give up or collapse easily.
Doctors would usually ask for imaging scans, such as magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI) or a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, to get a clearer image of the nerves and how they are affected. This will help to narrow down the treatment options including painkillers or corticosteroids, physical therapy, or surgery, in severe cases.
Opting for surgery comes with its own risks and complications. Therefore, someone seeking surgery should closely monitor with their specialist to develop a recovery program that fits their specific needs.
Most pinched nerves could be treated at home briefly and with ease. Persistent signs may be a warning of a more severe injury needing medical treatment.
Pinched nerves should often be stopped, and the successful self-care regimen would help reduce anxiety and prevent the discomfort from building up around the nerves