When you think of a pinched nerve, you probably imagine it feels like an ice pick hitting your arm. In other words, it’s crazy-painful. But there are different types of pinched nerves. For example, a pinched nerve can result from repetitive stress or awkward posture, which doesn’t hurt as much as a sudden jerk or impact injury—like whiplash from a car accident or falling off a ladder.
If you have lingering neck pain or discomfort in your arms or hands after an accident, see if your health plan covers visits with a chiropractor—they’re good at treating soft tissue injuries like whiplash and carpal tunnel syndrome. Even if not covered by insurance, seeing one costs less than $100 per visit on average and could help relieve your pain sooner rather than later.
The good news is that a chiropractor can fix a pinched nerve—and help prevent it from happening again. Chiropractic education aims to train specialists to diagnose and treat pinched nerves and other common ailments such as headaches and back pain.
Here’s what you need to know about this common injury and whether it’s something you should see an expert about sooner rather than later.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve happens when the tiny space between the bony structures in your spine (your vertebrae) gets too narrow. This might be because a herniated disc is pushing against the bony structures of your spine. Or it might be because of muscle spasms or misaligned joints, which can happen when you’re in a car accident, fall, or lift something heavy incorrectly.
If the bony structures in your spine are too close together, they pinch and irritate the nerves that run through the spaces between them. If a disc is herniated and pressing against the nerves, it can cause the same problem.
It’s usually not serious, and you can treat it with conservative methods like chiropractic care or massage therapy.
If you experience numbness and weakness in an area of your body because of a pinched nerve, it’ll likely improve after some time. The pain may worsen before it improves, but if your symptoms don’t get better after 7–10 days (or longer), see the relevant medical physician immediately.
Can Chiropractors Help With Pinched Nerves?
Chiropractors specialize in treating the spine and vertebrae of the body through manipulation techniques such as spinal adjustments and manipulations. Chiropractic colleges equip chiropractic students and other healthcare professionals with various ways to help people recover from physical pains and ailments.
So, the short answer is yes, a chiropractor adjustment is a great first stop for issues like pinched nerves or other complications like whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, and nerve pain in the neck and arms.
A study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that chiropractic treatment is highly effective for low back pain and radiculopathy (nerve pain in the arms and hands). The research suggests that chiropractic adjustments can reduce pain, improve functionality, and increase the range of motion in people with low back pain and radiculopathy.
Chiropractic management uses alternative medicine techniques, such as spinal manipulation, to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve. This can be done by manipulating the spine into alignment or applying gentle traction to the affected area.
In some instances, chiropractic programs like physical therapy or massage therapy before or after their treatment plan can go a long way in helping treat your condition more effectively.
So, When Should I See a Chiropractor?
If you have a sudden pain in your arm or hand that won’t go away, it might be a pinched nerve. You’ll want to be sure that it’s not just a muscle cramping up since that can feel the same way. It could also be carpal tunnel syndrome if you have pain and tingling in both arms at once.
The best way to know for sure is to see a doctor and get an MRI to clarify the problem.
What Happens During a Chiropractic Visit?
The chiropractor will ask you about your symptoms, how long they’ve been bothering you, and whether there’s a history of neck or back pain in your family.
They may also give you a physical exam to determine the cause of the problem.
Your doctor might use x-rays to see if there’s anything unusual in the vertebrae or discs causing pressure on your nerves. This is especially important if it turns out that what’s pinching the nerve isn’t something that can be adjusted by hand (like scar tissue).
Even if a chiropractic adjustment doesn’t alleviate your symptoms altogether, it may reduce them enough for you to avoid surgery or other invasive treatments.
Chiropractic Services to Correct Pinched Nerves
Chiropractors can treat a pinched nerve in several ways.
Your doctor will try to realign your vertebrae so they no longer press on the nerves that cause pain and other symptoms. The adjustments may be performed by hand or with tools such as an instrument called an Activator, which delivers a controlled force against specific areas of your spine. In some cases, adjustments may require traction therapy—using weights or pulleys to gently stretch out muscles before they are adjusted back into place.
They can help with ice or hot/cold treatments if your nerves are inflamed. Applying heat can help loosen tight muscles, so they don’t pull on nearby nerves as much anymore. Cold packs can help reduce inflammation and swelling around damaged tissue (like when someone has sprained their ankle).
Contact Quantum Physical Therapy & Chiropractic Care So You Can Resume a Pain-free Life
A pinched nerve can be incredibly uncomfortable and make simple tasks extremely difficult. While it’s completely natural to experience a pinched nerve from time to time, if it happens all the time—and you’re not engaging in any strenuous activities—something else may be going on.
We will assess your spine and nervous system to see what might be causing you pain (like a herniated disc or misaligned joints causing a pinched nerve) and offer techniques like massage, manual manipulation, and spinal adjustments to help your body heal itself faster than with traditional self-care.
Schedule your appointment with us today!