Massage as a Treatment for Pinched Nerves

Category: Health
Last updated on: 03/01/2019
man massaging neck to relieve pinched nerve pain

Have you been suffering from a radiating pain that starts at the back of your neck and goes down your shoulder and upper back? You could have a pinched nerve. When a nerve has too much pressure applied to it by surrounding bones, muscles or ligaments, this can cause pain or numbness in the area. Massage therapy can provide effective relief from pinched nerve symptoms when the cause of nerve compression is stressed or tight muscles.


What does a pinched nerve feel like?

A pinched nerve can occur almost anywhere in the body, but the most common areas are the neck, shoulder, back and leg.

Doctor William Morrison, MD says that early diagnosis is important to prevent further damage and complications.

Symptoms are usually mild to moderate in severity rather than extreme. You may feel an on-going niggling pain or numbness in the affected area and also suffer from pins and needles. Pinched nerve pain is often worse in the morning after sleeping since the compression has been applied for several hours without any significant movement or exercise.

Many people feel that stretching or cracking a joint in the painful area may provide relief. The urge to stretch is not surprising, since the underlying cause of pinched nerve is compression.


How does a pinched nerve occur?

Anyone can suffer from a pinched nerve. It is often caused by over exertion during manual tasks such as heavy lifting or playing sports. In these cases, the pinched nerve is a result of short-term strain on connective muscle tissues. Pinched nerve can also develop over a longer period as a result of repetitive strain injury at work or from unavoidable scenarios such as the natural development of a herniated disk through ageing.

When the underlying cause of pinched nerve is muscle or tendon strain, the symptoms can last from a few hours to a few days. Massage therapy can be very effective in relaxing muscle tightness to relieve pressure on the nerve and speed up the recovery process. 

A common form of pinched nerve is sciatica pain, which affects the lower back and leg down to the feet. Deep tissue massage techniques which stretch and release tension in the piriformis muscle inside the buttocks can help relieve compression of the sciatic nerve.

The most appropriate massage styles for treating a muscle based pinched nerve issue are relaxing Swedish massage, deep tissue massage or physio-style massage.

Other causes that cause chronic pinched nerve symptoms, such as a herniated disk often require more specialist treatment such as surgery for longer term relief.


Self-treatment options

Many instances of pinched nerve will simply heal themselves with rest after a short period. 

Self-massage techniques such as effleurage strokes to warm the muscles in the affected area followed by light kneading over any knots can help release tension in muscles. Once the muscles are relaxed, this may relieve pressure on the nerve and reduce the symptoms of pinched nerve. 

Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can also help by providing short-term pain relief whilst the muscles recover naturally.

Bad posture, such as sitting slumped over a work desk for several hours, is a very common cause of pinched nerve around the neck. Avoid this and other repetitive strain injuries by strengthening muscles through a regular exercise program and taking regular breaks during any strenuous or repetitive activities. 



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