How is a pinched nerve treated?

Treatment of a pinched nerve often begins with rest and use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, if needed. When these actions fail to improve your symptoms, splinting, steroid injections, and physical therapy might be helpful. In some circumstances, surgery may be needed to treat nerve entrapment or compression.

Common treatments of a pinched nerve

Common treatments of a pinched nerve may include:

  • Application of ice or heat
  • Evaluation of workstation functionality or athletic form to see if improvements can be made
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxyn (Aleve, Naprosyn), and indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Occupational therapy to improve posture
  • Physical therapy to improve strength or functional ability
  • Splinting of a joint involved in a pinched nerve syndrome
  • Steroid injections or oral steroid medications to reduce inflammation
  • Surgery to alleviate pressure or release entrapped nerves

Complementary treatments

Some complementary treatments may help some people in their efforts to deal with a pinched nerve. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for full medical care.

Complementary treatments may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga

What are the potential complications of pinched nerve?

Complications of untreated pinched nerves can be serious. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of pinched nerve include:

  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Inability to participate normally in activities
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Loss of strength
  • Permanent loss of sensation
  • Permanent muscle wasting
  • Permanent nerve damage, including paralysis
  • Severe discomfort or pain
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence (inability to control urine or stool)

References:

Carpal tunnel syndrome. PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001469/. Accessed April 27, 2011.

Sciatica. PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001706/. Accessed April 27, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What is a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is an injury to a nerve or group of nerves resulting from compression, entrapment or stretching. Numbness, tingling, burning or pain can result. In some cases, muscle weakness can also occur. Symptoms of a pinched nerve may develop gradually or can come on suddenly.... Read more about pinched nerveintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve?

Symptoms of a pinched nerve depend upon the location, but typically involve alterations in sensation such a pain or numbness and may involve weakness.... Read more about pinched nervesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a pinched nerve?

Anything that compresses, entraps or stretches a nerve or group of nerves can cause a pinched nerve. This can include pressure on a nerve from a bulging or herniated disc in the back, broken bones or bone spurs, or inflammation or swelling of nearby structures. Certain body positions can stretch nerves or put pressure on them. Cystic growths or tumors can also press on nerves.... Read more about pinched nervecauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves