How is a pinched nerve treated?

William B. Dasher III., MD
Orthopedic Surgery
When a nerve near the spine is pinched, surgery may be needed to relieve the pain. In this video, Will Dasher, MD, of Coliseum Medical Centers, explains minimally invasive surgery as a treatment option.
When a pinched nerve is causing pain and inhibiting movement, surgery can provide relief. In this video, Peter Holliday, MD, of Coliseum Medical Centers, discusses treatment for a pinched nerve.

The most frequently recommended treatment for a pinched nerve is rest for the affected area. Corticosteroids help alleviate pain. In some cases, surgery is recommended. Physical therapy may be recommended, and splints or collars may be used.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

When treating a pinched nerve it is important to take pressure off the nerve so it can conduct properly. In Physical Therapy, we can use mechanical traction or hands-on techniques to reduce the nerve symptoms. With these techniques we look for a reduction of pain, intensity, and distance that the nerve pain travels down the arm or leg.  Typically, the further the symptoms go down the arm or leg the worse the nerve symptoms are getting. Therefore, any treatment that the patient feels that  symptoms are lessening further down the leg and arm, and closer to the spine means that the nerve is being less pinched and irritated.

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 length 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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.