Discs are fibrocartilaginous spacers between your vertebrae. Vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. A disc is composed of a harder ring of cartilage surrounding an inside of softer cartilage. Discs act to absorb shock throughout the spine and allow the spine to move efficiently. In some cases, the discs may move and protrude past the edge of the vertebrae, pressing on a nerve and resulting in pain. This is known as a pinched nerve. How can physical therapy help a pinched nerve? Well, read below to discover how physical therapy is a great pinched lumbar nerve treatment.
Cervical Pinched Nerve
Symptoms of a cervical pinched nerve include pain in the neck, shoulder blade, or part of the arm or hand. Typically with a pinched nerve, symptoms will be felt on either right or left side, if at all. Some patients only experience pain in neck itself where the injury has occurred. Numbness and tingling may also be present depending on the severity of the injury. Symptoms may only be present with certain movements.
There are various reasons as to why you may experience a pinched nerve, including dehydration of the discs over time as part of the natural aging process, overuse injury to the nerve, or injury to the spine. The most common causes of a pinched nerve is posture and repetitive movement with poor form (i.e. lifting). A herniated disc or spinal stenosis can also compress the nerve root where it exits the spinal canal.
Cervical Pinched Nerve Diagnosis
Our physical therapists will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mobility, strength, posture, and functional activities (such as walking). Cervical pinched nerves are usually affected by everyday postures and positions, and our therapists will always examine conditions outside the clinic such as seated postures, work positions, car positions, and other movement patterns which could contribute to your current symptoms. Our physical therapist will also inquire about recreational activities you enjoy that you plan to return to and then come up with a cervical pinched nerve treatment plan.
Cervical Pinched Nerve Treatment and Exercises
The focus of cervical pinched nerve treatment will be to relieve the pressure on the nerve through exercise and manual therapy techniques to achieve less pain, greater overall strength and core stability, and to prevent future re-injury. Exercises will be tailored to your goals and recreational activities to ensure you return to doing what you love most.
Exercises such as chin tucks, scapular retraction, theraband movements, and use of an UBE (upper body ergometer) are included in most patients’ exercise programs. Manual cervical traction, electrical stimulation, and other joint mobilizations are utilized to increase cervical range of motion and strength.
Lumbar Pinched Nerve
A lumbar pinched nerve can manifest as pain, numbness, or tingling into the buttocks, ankle, or even the low back region. Depending upon the severity of the compression, muscle weakness, such as drop foot or quad weakness bilaterally or in just one leg can develop. Posture, movement, and changes in position can sometimes lessen or worsen the symptoms depending upon the cause. Many times people refer to a lumbar pinched nerve also as ‘Sciatica’, which is any pain or tingling referred down the back of the leg in the sciatic nerve.
Lumbar pinched nerves can be caused most commonly from a herniated or bulging disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, and less frequently from degenerative joint disease (DJD, degenerative disc disease (DDD) or even a space occupying lesion such as a tumor. A severe trauma such as a trip, fall, or motor vehicle accident can also contribute to a lumbar pinched nerve.
Lumbar Pinched Nerve Diagnosis
Our physical therapists will assess your general lumbar/lower extremity active range of motion, trunk/core strength, proprioception, balance, and overall endurance for ADL’s and other tasks. Any imaging studies, such as x-rays and MRI’s, are also reviewed with the patient. Reviewing your home posture, positions, movement patterns, and even your car seat position, can help determine what is leading to your diagnosis. Determining the true cause of the symptoms from the aforementioned tests and some other special tests allows us to form our treatment plan.
Lumbar Pinched Nerve Treatment and Exercises
Depending upon the cause of your symptoms, we develop a comprehensive treatment plan usually consisting of lumbar/lower extremity stretches, abdominal/core strengthening exercises, and cardiovascular training. Sometimes nerve glides, nerve flossing, lumbar traction, and other joint mobilizations are considered to help alleviate your symptoms. A detailed home exercise program is developed and reviewed with each patient to ensure they can continue with the therapy at home.
If you suspect you have a cervical or lumbar pinched nerve, contact us at 201-773-8851 or email us HERE to schedule your physical therapy for pinched nerve treatment.