More often than not, if you feel as though you have a pinched nerve, the origin is in your spine. According to the North American Spine Society, even 95% of cases that patients label as sciatica is actually caused by compression of the spinal nerve. Are their exercises for a pinched nerve you can incorporate into your routine?
For a top neurosurgeon in Los Angeles, look no further than Dr. Yashar. With international experience and an expertly trained team, Yashar Neurosurgery specializes in treating patients suffering from pinched nerve symptoms.
What is a “Pinched” Nerve?
Radiculopathy, aka a “pinched” nerve in the spinal column, is caused by increased pressure on the nerves, usually as a result of a narrowing of the point where the nerves exit the spine. This narrowing can be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from a herniated disk to stenosis.
Symptoms of Radiculopathy
- Sharp pains in the back, shoulders, neck, or extremities
- Loss of reflexes
- Numbness or “Pins and Needles” sensation
Types of Radiculopathy
The type of radiculopathy will depend on the location of the compressed nerve.
- Cervical radiculopathy indicates that the compression is occurring in your neck. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the arms and hands are the most common sites for symptoms in these cases.
- Thoracic radiculopathy indicates that the compression is occurring in your upper back. This is the least common form and will sometimes result in painful sensations that can wrap around the front of the body
- Lumbar radiculopathy indicates that the compression is occurring in your lower back. This is the most common form. You will normally experience symptoms in your buttocks and legs. Lumbar radiculopathy is often what people mistake for sciatica.
The treatment options available to you will depend largely on the cause of the compression and where it is occurring along your spine. Dr. Yashar, an experienced neurosurgeon in Los Angeles with a specialization in spinal surgery, offers treatment for all of the major causes of pinched nerves with surgical options for extreme cases. Depending on the source of your discomfort, you’ll find the anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections are some common first steps before surgery will even be considered.
Pain Relief & Exercises for a Pinched Nerve
Waiting for diagnosis and treatment can be frustrating particularly if you’re suffering more severe symptoms. In the meantime, there are several stretches and exercises for a pinched nerve that can be used to give you much-needed relief.
For Lumbar Radiculopathy
The Bent Knee Stretch: Start by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lie back gently and bend one of your knees. Clasp both hands around the knee, keeping the foot flexed, and gently pull it towards you.
Once you feel the stretch in your buttock and lower back, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Hold for 30-60 seconds, pulling a little closer if you can without straining yourself. Then try the other side.
If the full stretch is too much, then try it while you’re still sitting up. Lower your head for a more complete stretch in the sitting position. You can see a video of both versions here.
For Cervical Radiculopathy
The Chin Tuck: Start by sitting or standing in an upright position. Many guides, such as the one provided by Healthline suggest grabbing your chin and gently pushing it down, helping you to elongate your neck. An alternative is a deeper stretch achieved by using your fingertips to exert slight pressure at the crown of your head.
The Shoulder Roll: This exercise for a pinched nerve will target your shoulders and the lowest part of your neck. You’ll start by standing up straight, pushing your shoulders forward and your thoracic region slightly back, then rolling your shoulders upwards and around until they’re all the way back. You can reverse the process for a more complete stretch.
For Thoracic Radiculopathy
Scapular Retraction: Stand up straight and gently pull your shoulders back as though you are trying to get your shoulder blades to touch behind you. It’s a simple exercise with excellent relief potential. A similar effect can be achieved by standing in a doorway with a hand on either side and just barely walking through.
Though exercises for a pinched nerve are not a permanent solution, they may help bring you some much-needed pain relief. Contact Dr. Yashar today for more questions about the condition and strength of your spine.