Think You Have a Pinched Nerve?

Think You Have a Pinched Nerve?

Signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness (especially in the arms/hands if you have a pinched nerve in your neck)
  • “Pins and needles”
  • The area may feel like it has “fallen asleep”

You may experience worsened symptoms when lying down or after just waking up. Pinched nerves can be caused by poor posture, staying in the same position for too long, or repetitive motions.

Consider These Home Remedies to Provide Relief:

  1. Be conscious of posture
    • The Problem: Our bodies are designed for very specific movement patterns. If you’re continuously sitting or standing with poor posture for extended periods of time, you’re putting unnecessary stress on your body, which may damage your muscles or spine, eventually leading to a pinched nerve.
    • The Solution: watch your posture. Try using cushions, neck rests, or adjustable chairs to relieve pressure and give the nerve a chance to heal. If possible, try not to remain in the same position for too long and avoid crossing your legs.

  2. Ice and heat packs
    • The Problem: Pinched nerves are a result of swelling and inflammation that compress the nerve. Imagine squeezing a straw and then trying to drink from it.
    • The Solution: try alternating between heat and ice packs to reduce swelling and inflammation. The combination of hot and cold increases the circulation of fresh blood to the area, which may help relieve pain. Hold an ice pack over the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time, three times a day to help reduce inflammation. Heat pads can be applied for a longer period, up to 1 hour, three times a day.
  3. Lifestyle changes
    • The Problem: Being overweight or inactive can add increased stress to the body, leading to inflammation and pressure on the nerves.
    • The Solution: In the long-term, adding a low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, or bicycling, to a daily regimen may help reduce symptoms and keep the body in shape. Stretching before or after low-impact exercises can help keep the body flexible and reduce pressure and inflammation near the nerves. For some ideas for a low impact workout, you can check out our low impact routine by clicking the image below:

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your own health and dietary needs, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.

Four Tests to Determine if You Have a Pinched Nerve in Your Neck

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from a pinched nerve:

  • Pain in the neck that radiates beyond your elbow or to your fingertips
  • Shoulder blade pain
  • Hand, arm, or shoulder weakness
  • Dull aches, numbness, or tingling
  • Pain aggravated by neck movements

If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, administer this self-movement test to help you determine if a pinched nerve is the cause of your pain:

  1. Arm tension test:
    • First, perform this test on your non-painful arm to determine the natural range of comfortable motion.
    • Extend your non-painful arm directly in front of you, keeping your wrist straight and in-line with your arm.
    • Turn your wrist outward, so your palm is facing away from your body.
    • Extend your arm to the side as far as you can comfortably go. By the end of this movement, your position should look like the image below:
    • Try the same movement with your painful arm. By the time you extend your wrist, if you begin to feel increased symptoms on the path throughout the arm or in the neck, then stop. You have tested positive for arm tension.
    • If you still do not feel increased symptoms, then continue to extend your arm out to the side.
    • If you feel pain, numbness, or tingling in the arm as you extend it, and/or you cannot extend it as far as the non-painful arm, then you have tested positive for arm tension and should continue to the next test.
    • If you did not experience symptoms or limited range of motion throughout this test, then stop. It is likely that the source of your pain is not a pinched nerve.
  2. Neck compression test:
    • You should continue to this test if you tested positive for arm tension. Once again, you want to begin on your non-painful side to get a good baseline.
    • Tilt your head to the non-painful side (if your left side is your good side, then tilt your head to the left and vice versa).
    • Keeping your head titled, rotate your head outwards slightly, as if you were looking over your shoulder
    • Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
    • Perform the same movement to the painful side
    • If you feel neck pain, pain or tingling that radiates down the arm, or numbness, then you have tested positive.
  3. Head turn test:
    • If you have tested positive for both tests so far, perform this test on your non-painful side first.
    • Turn your head to the non-painful side and hold it there for a few seconds. You should have full motion and no pain.
    • Turn your head to the painful side and hold it there for a few seconds. If you have limited motion or cannot turn your head as far on this side as you could on your non-painful side, then you have tested positive.

  4. Relief test:
    • For this test, you will want to see if relieving tension on the nerve will reduce your symptoms. You can do this by tilting your head AWAY from the painful side (similar to the compression test).
    • Use your non-painful arm to hold it there up to a minute
    • Ask yourself if this relieves your symptoms. Do you feel less numbness and tingling in the arm? Or warmth as if your arm is regaining sensation?

If you have tested positive for all four of these exercises, then it’s likely that a pinched nerve may be the source of your pain. If you tested positive, then you may be interested in these home remedies for nerve pain.

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your own health and dietary needs, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.

Are You Wondering if Physical Therapy is the Right Solution for You?

Are You Wondering if Physical Therapy is the Right Solution for You?

 

Are you wondering if you need physical therapy? Physical therapy isn’t just for those recovering from surgery or physical trauma. In fact, it has a ton of benefits that many people are not even aware of. Anyone who is in pain is a good candidate for physical therapy. Why work around your discomfort when you can eliminate it?

Here is how physical therapy can help you:

1. Maximize your Movement:

Anyone can understand how important pain-free movement is for quality of life and independence. Often times, imbalances or muscle weaknesses are what cause pain. For example, many people who experience knee pain have weak hips. Your hip muscles control the position of your knees, and weak hip muscles can cause you to make unnatural thigh movements. This can put excessive stress and pressure on your knee cap and knee joint. By working with a physical therapist to improve overall your hip strength and balance, you can learn to keep your knees in the correct position and, eventually, relieve your knee pain.

This is just an example of the many ways physical therapy can help you maximize your movement. Our bodies are designed to move in a very precise way. However, when we have muscle weaknesses that prevent or hinder us from moving properly, we unknowingly slip into incorrect movement patterns. These compensatory movements may cause pain and eventually lead to injury.

example of how improper movements can cause knee pain

2. Avoid Surgery and Other Medical Expenses:

Surgery can be expensive, invasive, and hard to recover from. Before undergoing a surgical procedure, you should consider physical therapy. If you’re suffering from knee osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or rotator cuff tears, physical therapy has proven to be as effective as surgery in some cases. A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that there was no significant difference in functional movement after six months between patients who had undergone surgery coupled with postoperative physical therapy and those who received standardized physical therapy alone.

Some patients may be able to avoid the risks and expenses associated with surgery all-together by considering physical therapy as a good first course of action. Since physical therapists are experts in assessing pain and movement dysfunctions, going to a physical therapist initially can save you thousands of dollars on medical expenses.

study results demonstrating that physical therapy is cheaper than other medical alternatives

You can read more about this study here: https://www.apta.org/Media/Release/Consumer/2013/3/21/

3. Injury Prevention and Other Athletic Benefits:

Physical therapy is usually regarded of as part of the recovery or rehabilitation process, especially in relation to sports.  Although this is true in many cases, athletes should also consider incorporating physical therapy into their training regimens. Undergoing treatment can help athletes get ready for upcoming competitions, prevent injuries, and maintain their fitness levels.

Upper level athletes should pay extra attention to injury prevention. Missing out on practice or games due to an injury can be devastating to an athletic career. With the help of a physical therapist, athletes can develop a proper injury prevention regimen that is based specifically on their sport in order to reduce the risk of damage.

At the end of the day, it is the little bio-mechanical flaws that separate the regular athletes from the superstars. Physical therapists are trained to identify and correct inefficiencies in the body. This not only helps to prevent injury, but also improves performance.

So, Do You Need Physical Therapy?

If you experience pain after exercise that lasts for more than 24 hours, are an athlete, or are interested injury prevention, then you may be a good candidate for therapy. To schedule an evaluation, call 800-PT-FIRST!

*As a reminder, always discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your own health and dietary needs, as the information written should not replace any medical advice.