How to get rid of a 'trapped' nerve?
The concept of a ‘trapped nerve’ has been flying around the public recently. Many of the patients I meet complain of a ‘trapped nerve’. Firstly, it is important to educate ourselves a little on nerve pain.
Typically nerve pain presents as a sharp, shooting sensation and is commonly accompanied by some pins and needles, numbness or weakness along the distribution of the nerve that is affected. For example, the image below shows the nerves exiting from the neck and how they travel down to the arm and hand. As you can see if there is pressure on a specific nerve it will send signals along the distribution of that nerve.
via google images
The options for treatment all depend on what is causing irritation of that particular nerve. The nerve can get irritated for several reasons. For example, the sciatic nerve, which comes from your lower back into the back of the thigh and down to the feet, can be ‘trapped’ at the lower back by a possible disc protrusion or even at the buttock area by a muscle called the Piriformis.
The first step is to have a thorough assessment to understand the cause of the nerve pain that you are experiencing. Once there is enough information to ascertain the site of compression then treatment can commence or a referral might be required for further investigations.
Can I do anything in the meantime while I wait for an assessment?
Nerve pain can be very irritating and uncomfortable. The best thing to do is to keep moving gently and not stay in one position for a long period of time. You can try doing some gentle stretching to provide some symptomatic relief, but make sure that you do not hold positions for a long period but rather stretch in an out of postures like a dynamic stretch.
It is important that you keep well hydrated and eat nutritious healthy food such as the rainbow of fruits and vegetables we have at our disposal. These will help to reduce inflammation and help the healing process. It is also very important to get some comfortable sleep as best as you can. It can be very difficult to sleep with nerve pain but try to find the best position you can and create a calming environment that will allow you to sleep better, you can use essential oils like Lavender for this. Sleep is very important for helping with relaxation of muscles and healing.