An array of nerves traverse your spinal canal en route to their final destination, navigating a number of bones, muscles and other tissues along the way. If these structures end up getting too close to the nerve and compress it, you may experience some uncomfortable symptoms like pain, numbness or muscle weakness. These symptoms are being caused by a compressed or pinched nerve, and there are a few different ways that specialists work to free this compression and help the nerve heal, but the most common treatment is physical therapy. Below, we take a closer look at why physical therapy is oftentimes considered the gold standard when it comes to treating a pinched nerve.
Why Physical Therapy Can Alleviate A Pinched Nerve
There are a few different techniques that are oftentimes used to help treat a pinched nerve, but physical therapy typically has more upside and fewer risks compared to these techniques. For example, medications to relieve pain and calm inflammation can lead to unwanted side effects, and surgery to free the compression carries its own risks, and not all patients are ideal candidates for a surgical correction. Physical therapy, on the other hand, can be performed by patients of all ages and does not carry risks like dependence or overdose.
Physical therapy is also considered the gold standard for pinched nerves because of how it works to prevent and treat the problem in a number of different ways. Here’s a look at a few different ways that physical therapy helps to treat a pinched nerve.
- Muscle Strengthening – One way to help treat a pinched nerve is by doing some physical therapy exercises that help to strengthen muscle groups. Sometimes these muscles are not as strong as they need to be to perform certain tasks or to help support other structures. For example, if spinal muscles are weak, you may be prone to poor posture, which can put additional pressure on areas and lead to nerve compression, or the muscles can’t appropriately handle the stress that is placed on them, forcing other areas to pick up the slack and leading to shifting discs that can compress a nerve.
- Posture Education – Your physical therapist can also tackle your posture issues that may be contributing to your nerve compression through direct posture education. They can help to correct posture imbalances and give you the tools to self-correct posture problems that could be putting strain on certain nerves.
- Range of Motion Exercises – Your therapist will also work to increase your comfortable range of motion so that structures can move freely without putting excessive pressure on spinal nerves. Range of motion exercise can also help to provide pain relief.
- Traction Training – Traction is another therapeutic technique that helps to stretch certain muscle groups with the help of weights, pulleys or harnesses. Traction can help to decompress your body and remove pressure from an area that is agitating a nearby nerve.
- Physical Manipulation – Your physical therapist can also work to physically manipulate your body to target specific muscle groups. Manipulation exercises can help to relieve muscle tension which could be leading to inflammation, an underlying cause of nerve compression.
These are just a few of the ways that physical therapy can help to free a compressed nerve, and as we mentioned, it’s a very low-risk option with a ton of upside. Pairing physical therapy with other lifestyle adjustments like improved diet and regular exercise typically yields great results for a pinched nerve.
If you want help addressing your nerve pain, or you have another physical issue that you want help overcoming, reach out to the talented team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (952) 922-0330.
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