3 Things You Can Do At Home to Help a Pinched Nerve

3 Things You Can Do At Home to Help a Pinched Nerve

pinched nerve occurs when surrounding tissues compress a nerve. Nerves normally branch from the spinal cord through hollow spaces between the vertebrae. Problems can occur if the space becomes narrow or if something protrudes into the space.

A variety of issues can cause pinched nerves, such as a herniated disc. In most cases, degenerative changes to the spine are the most common causes of pinched nerves.

The good news is there are numerous therapy options for pinched nerves. Here at Pain Management Specialists in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, we almost always start with conservative pain management measures. If you’re in pain, there are some things you can do at home to get relief.

What is a pinched nerve?

Your spine is made up of 33 bones known as vertebrae. Your spinal cord passes through a canal in the core of these bones. Nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and travel between the vertebrae. If a nerve root gets compressed, it’s called a pinched nerve.

This condition most commonly affects the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy), but it can also affect the neck (cervical radiculopathy) and other areas of the spine.

Herniated discs are a common cause of pinched nerves. Between your vertebrae, there are soft, rubbery discs that act as cushions. With age, these discs can dry and crack and move out of place and put pressure on nerves.

Another common cause of pinched nerves is bone spurs. Bone spurs are bony growths that can develop in a number of areas, including the spine. And these bony projections can push on nerve roots. Furthermore, ligaments and tendons can pinch nerves as they travel through the arms and legs.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve

Because nerves communicate messages about sensation, pinched nerves are often painful. Symptoms can vary depending on where the pinched nerve occurs. If you have a pinched nerve in the lower back, you may experience:

A pinched nerve in the neck may cause:

If you have a pinched nerve, pain may worsen depending on your position or when you move.

Treating a pinched nerve

If you get a pinched nerve, doing the following things may help you get relief.

1. Take it easy

Rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you have a pinched nerve. Avoiding strenuous activity can help quiet an irritated nerve. Depending on where the pinched nerve is, this could entail taking a break from lifting, running, or other activities.

As the inflammation calms down, you can gradually resume activity. Pay attention to how that portion of your body feels when you start moving it again. If your pain returns, stop the activity.

2. Apply ice and heat

Along with rest, ice and heat can ease pain from a pinched nerve. You don’t need anything fancy. A regular bag of frozen peas can work just fine, just make sure to wrap it in a towel or cloth to protect your skin. Start by icing for 15 minutes, then wait for 30 minutes before icing again.

Once the inflammation calms down, heat can help relax any tense muscles near the pinched nerve. Heat can also stimulate blood flow, which can aid in healing. Try using a heating pad or a warm compress.

As with ice, you should protect your skin from direct heat. Avoid using heat on any areas where the skin is damaged. Apply heat to the pinched nerve for 10-15 minutes at a time.

3. Adjust posture and reduce sitting time 

Poor posture is a common cause of neck and back pain. Improper posture can put your body out of alignment, which can place added stress on your muscles as they try to compensate. Improving your posture can go a long way toward aiding in healing and relieving neck and back pain. 

When you use electronic devices, pay extra attention to your head and neck positions. Keep your head in a neutral position, because this will help support a proper posture. And if you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to help maintain a proper posture.

Furthermore, avoid sitting for lengthy periods of time, as doing this can weaken the muscles that support your spine and increase your risk for nerve pain. Instead, try standing at your desk or taking frequent activity breaks. 

Many people's symptoms often improve with time. However, if yours don’t, our team at Pain Management Specialists can help. We have a variety of therapies that can help you get relief and function better.

Don’t put off getting help for pinched nerve pain. To get the care you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with Pain Management Specialists today.

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