How is a Pinched Nerve Treated?
Post by Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT
When treating a pinched nerve it is important to take pressure off the nerve so the nerve can conduct properly. In Physical Therapy, we can use mechanical traction or hands-on techniques to reduce the nerve compression. With these techniques we look for a reduction of pain and intensity. Typically, the further the symptoms go down the arm or leg, the worse the nerve symptoms are. Therefore, any treatment that the patient feels their symptoms are lessening further down the leg or arm means that the nerve is being pinched less.
The nerve itself should also be treated. When the nerve is pinched it can become inflamed and irritated. We use techniques called nerve mobilizations or ‘neurodynamics’ to improve the nerve’s mobility. Think of a nerve being like a bungy cord. Normally the nerve has enough elasticity to lengthen with the arm to reach and stretch. But when the nerve is irritated, it loses its elasticity and ability to lengthen the way it supposed to. It is important to improve the mobility of the nerve back to its normal length, like you would with an elbow that just had a cast removed from it. With improved mobility of the nerve it has the ability to heal and have less pain.