Pinched NerveDr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Usually occurring as a result of an injury to an adjacent structure, nerve endings become pinched when the nerve space is compromised. Thus, it doesn’t matter what type of injury results in a pinched nerve, because the result is the same. Individuals can experience nerve pain, muscle weakness, sensory loss or changes in reflexes.
While nerves can be pinched anywhere throughout the body, the sciatic nerve in the back is the most commonly discussed type of pinched nerve. In most cases, it becomes pinched by a bulging intervertebral disc, muscle or ligament injury or spondylosis (arthritis of the spine). When the sciatic nerve is compressed, individuals experience referred pain in the leg, and this is called sciatica. Similarly, when a nerve is pinched in the cervical region of the neck, individuals may complain of arm pain with weakness, numbness and a pins and needles sensation. Some may assume that their pain is due to other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, while the actual source of their symptomatic pain is from a pinched cervical nerve. Even so, carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of a peripheral pinched nerve condition in which the channel or “tunnel” encasing the nerve is affected.
Because a pinched nerve is essentially a “side effect” of an injury to a nearby structure, there are multiple injuries and conditions connected to nerve compression. Some are listed below:
- Back muscle pain
- Bulging disc
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Degenerative disc disease
- DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
- Facet joint pain
- Neck and arm pain
- Neck headache
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Sacroiliac joint pain
- Shoulder tendonitis
- Spinal stenosis
- Spondylolysis (stress fracture of the back)
- Spondylosis (arthritis of the back)
- Text neck
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Wry neck
Treatment and Rehabilitation for a Pinched Nerve
With an understanding of how a wide variety of injuries and conditions correlate with systems and structures in the body, physiatrists are well positioned to identify the original source or injury that results in nerve compression. In turn, physiatrists realize how pain can be misinterpreted in the brain from signals from compromised nerves in the spinal cord. With this perspective, physiatrists apply a multidisciplinary approach to treatment and rehabilitation.
For patients experiencing pain and impaired functioning due to a pinched nerve, initial treatment aims to relieve pain and reduce any inflammation. This may be accomplished by ice therapy, over the counter pain relievers, prescription drugs, anti-inflammatory medication, ultrasound, electrical stimulation therapy, acupuncture or magnetic field therapy. Physiatrists lead the charge when it comes to determining treatment, yet they rely on a team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, clinicians and interventionists to administer each protocol, as important information is relayed back to the physiatrist. For instance, if a patient does not respond to treatment in a particular region, physiatrists use this information as a diagnostic tool, meaning that further testing is needed to determine the cause of the patient’s pain.
Rehabilitation for a pinched nerve may incorporate a combination of any of the following:
- Biomechanical analysis
- Posture correction
- Soft tissue massage
- Deep neck stabilization
- Moist heat packs
- Joint mobilization techniques
- Strength and stretching training
- TENS machine
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Tenafly, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
For those suffering from a pinched nerve, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Tenafly today to schedule a consultation.