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What are the Different Remedies for Pinched Nerve Pain?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Recommended remedies for pinched nerve pain will vary depending on the location of the affected nerve. Nonsurgical treatments, typically referred to as conservative remedies, can include rest, modification of daily activities, applying ice to the affected area, physical therapy, or medications. Alternative remedies such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, or massage might also be effective in conjunction with medical and home treatment. Surgery is sometimes considered an appropriate treatment for severe or long-term nerve pain.

Pinched nerve pain happens when a nerve is excessively compressed by tissues that surround it, such as muscles, cartilage, or bones. This ongoing high pressure prevents normal nerve function, resulting in pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in the body. Common conditions related to pinched nerves include carpal tunnel syndrome, which creates numbness or pain in the hand and fingers, and sciatica, which features back pain that radiates to the legs.

Conservative remedies are generally the first course of treatment for pinched nerve pain. First, the individual is instructed to rest the affected area and to modify daily activities that might aggravate symptoms. Applying ice to the affected area could also be recommended. In some cases, a brace or splint can be used to immobilize the area. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. For severe cases, a physician can provide prescription-strength NSAIDS, steroid injections, or other forms of pain medication.

Another treatment option is physical therapy. A physical therapist employs exercises or the use of traction to stretch and strengthen muscles surrounding the pinched nerve. Forms of alternative medicine that could be effective for pinched nerve pain include acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and massage therapy. Doctors generally recommend some combination of conservative treatments in the initial treatment of pinched nerve pain.

Surgical options are often considered a last resort to relieve symptoms when there has been little to no improvement after weeks or months of conservative treatment. Types of surgical treatment vary depending on the location of the pinched nerve. In the elbow or wrist, severing affected ligaments can alleviate pressure. For pain in the lower back or neck, the surgeon might remove bone spurs or part of a disc, and in some cases could recommend a spinal fusion.

Pinched nerve pain can be caused by a variety of factors. Repetitive stress from daily engagement in sports, a hobby, or certain types of employment is a frequent cause of pinched nerve symptoms. Other causes could include poor posture, osteoarthritis, an injury, or obesity.

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