Pinched nerve: what to do?

Pinched nerve: what to do

A pinched nerve is usually noticeable through stabbing or burning pain. Symptoms such as numbness and tingling can also occur. The complaints in ​​the throat, neck or back area occur particularly frequently. But other body parts, such as the shoulders, arms or hips, can also be affected. Harmless muscle hardening is often the cause of the pinched nerve. We reveal what you can do about the complaints. 

Pinched nerve: typical symptoms

Anyone who suffers from a pinched nerve has a restricted functionality of the affected nerve. Which symptoms occur as part of the functional restriction depends, among other things, on which nerve is affected: 

  • In most cases, a shooting, stabbing, or burning pain is a typical symptom of a pinched nerve.
  • In addition to the pain, symptoms such as tingling, numbness and sensory disturbances can also occur.
  • It is also possible that the affected body part is restricted in its movement. 

If a nerve is pinched, the symptoms do not only occur in the affected area. Instead, they are often noticeable in the supply area of ​​the nerve. For example, if the sciatic nerve is impaired, back, hip, or leg pain can occur. 


Muscle hardening as a cause

A pinched nerve can have a variety of causes. It is often caused by irritation or inflammation of the nerve. Irritation of the surrounding muscles can also be the trigger.

Muscle hardening is often the cause of the symptoms: if the tissue cramps, it becomes hard and puts pressure on the nerve tracts. 

Possible triggers for muscle hardening include:

  • Common causes are long-term poor posture and one-sided stress.
  • In addition, functional disorders and signs of wear and tear in the spine can lead to muscle tension.
  • Likewise, incorrect lifting and an unfavourable movement – for example, during sports – can cramp the muscles. 

Rule out serious causes.

Muscle hardening is not always the cause of a pinched nerve. The function of the nerve can also be restricted by injuries such as broken bones or whiplash.

If there is stabbing pain in the back, a herniated disc should also be considered. This is especially true if there is also numbness in the arms or legs. In the case of a herniated disc, the symptoms are triggered when a slipped disc presses on the nerves that run in the spinal canal. 

In addition to an intervertebral disc, benign and malignant tumours can press on the nerve tracts and cause symptoms. If the symptoms persist, you should always see a doctor to rule out a severe cause. 


A pinched nerve in the shoulder, neck and neck

The throat, neck, shoulders and back are particularly commonly affected by a pinched nerve. Back pain and headaches often occur if the nerve is in the neck area.

On the other hand, symptoms in the arms and hands are typical for a pinched nerve in the shoulder. In addition to muscle tension, a dislocated shoulder joint is a possible cause. 

pinched nerve in the back is also often due to a tightening of the muscles. However, there can also be other causes behind the symptoms – primarily problems with the spine. In addition to a herniated disc, diseases such as spondylitis, spondylosis and spondylolisthesis are also possible. 

Treat a pinched nerve.

The treatment of a pinched nerve always depends on the underlying causes. Pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing agents are usually used if the muscles are hardening behind the symptoms. These can either be taken orally or injected directly near the pinched nerve. 

It is also recommended to treat the affected area with heat. This improves blood flow to the muscles and relieves tension. In addition to a hot water bottle and heating and cherry stone pillows, heat patches are particularly suitable. Since they are not noticeable under clothing, they can also be used during the day. 

Finally, massages can also help to loosen the hardened muscles again. Special strengthening and stretching exercises can then help to prevent muscle hardening from reoccurring. It is best to have your physiotherapist show you a few suitable exercises.

avoid restraint

It is important not to adopt a relieving posture despite the pinched nerve but to move as normally as possible. If a relieving posture is taken over a more extended period, the muscles can cramp even further. To prevent this vicious circle, you should take painkilling and muscle-relaxing medication in good time. 


alternative therapy

In addition to classic treatment methods, there are some alternative medical concepts for treating pinched nerves. In addition to acupuncture, these primarily include osteopathy and chiropractic. If muscle tension is the cause of the pain, homoeopathic remedies such as Arnica or Bryonia can be used to relax the muscles. 

Immediate measures for a pinched nerve

If you realize you have pinched a nerve, it is essential to react immediately. In this way, you may be able to reduce the symptoms significantly:

  • Remain in the position where the pain appeared for a few minutes.
  • Slowly breathe in and out deeply. 
  • Do not use force to move the painful area.

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