The most frequently recommended treatment for pinched nerve is rest for the affected area. Your doctor will ask you to stop any activities that cause or aggravate the compression.
Depending on the location of the pinched nerve, you may need a splint or brace to immobilize the area. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor may recommend wearing a splint during the day as well as at night because wrists flex and extend frequently during sleep.
A physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve. He or she may also recommend modifications to activities that aggravate the nerve.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve), can help relieve pain and alleviate inflammation around the nerve.
Corticosteroid injections, given by mouth or by injection, may help minimize pain and inflammation.
If the pinched nerve doesn't improve after several weeks to a few months with conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to take pressure off the nerve. The type of surgery varies depending on the location of the pinched nerve.
Surgery may entail removing bone spurs or a part of a herniated disk in the spine, for example, or severing the carpal ligament to allow more room for the nerve to pass through the wrist.
Jan. 02, 2014
- NINDS pinched nerve information page. National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/pinchednerve/pinchednerve.htm?css. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Nerve compression syndromes. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/hand_disorders/nerve_compression_syndromes.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Overview of upper extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of lower extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Kothari MJ. Etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 11, 2013.
- Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00332. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Piecyk ML, et al. Neurologic manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
- Miller TT, et al. Nerve entrapment syndromes of the elbow, forearm and wrist. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2010;195:585.
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