Do you know that sensation that is often referred to as “pins and needles”? Perhaps you’ve been sitting with your legs crossed for a long period of time, and you realize your foot “fell asleep”? These are harmless examples of what a pinched nerve can be like. In minor cases like this, a pinched nerve occurs temporarily, and once you change positions or start moving again, the pins and needles sensation fades, and you regain regular functioning. But what do you do when you have a serious type of pinched nerve, and how long does pinched nerve pain last then? The cause and severity of the pinched nerve play a role in how long a pinched nerve can cause pain and other symptoms.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve is a relatively common condition that occurs when a nerve becomes irritated or compressed. Typically, a pinched nerve will cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. Bones, cartilage, muscles, and other tissues nearby can put pressure on a nerve, which can disrupt nerve function. A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in the body, including the neck, back, arms, legs, and feet. The symptoms of a pinched nerve may vary depending on the location of the affected nerve. Pain, tingling, and numbness can extend outward, and a pinched nerve can even cause muscle spasms or reduced mobility.
Causes of a Pinched Nerve
A variety of factors, including poor posture or an injury, can cause a pinched nerve. When you slouch or sit hunched over for long periods of time, this can put excess pressure on nerves in the neck and back. An injury can also result in a pinched nerve, even if the nerve itself is not directly damaged. Swelling and inflammation of nearby tissues could result in compression of a nerve and cause pinched nerve pain. A sudden injury from a fall or a car accident could result in a pinched nerve. An overuse injury from repetitive motions can also put additional stress on nerves and result in a pinched nerve. Certain health conditions can also put you at greater risk for a pinched nerve, including obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and pregnancy.
How Long Does a Pinched Nerve Last?
Pinched nerve pain can go away within a matter of minutes in mild cases, or a severely pinched nerve could take several months or longer for a full recovery. The severity of a pinched nerve will impact how long the symptoms last, as well as any type of injury or health condition that requires healing or recovery. The sooner you get started on treating a pinched nerve and its underlying cause, the better your chances will be of experiencing a full, swift recovery. If you suspect you have a pinched nerve, you want to see your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment sooner rather than later to avoid prolonged symptoms or complications. In some cases, medical treatment may be necessary to help alleviate the pressure on the pinched nerve.
Do Pinched Nerves Go Away on Their Own?
In very mild cases, a pinched nerve can go away on its own. Think of a time when you noticed your foot “fell asleep” from sitting for too long. As soon as you changed positions and started moving the foot, the sensation returned to the area. If you have a mild case of a pinched nerve like this, then simply adjusting your posture and moving around can help relieve the excessive pressure on a nerve. However, in many cases, a pinched nerve cannot go away on its own. If you suffer an injury like a muscle strain or herniated disc, you may need treatment for those specific injuries, which will also include treating a pinched nerve. Pinched nerve pain that is mild or moderate and caused by a relatively minor injury may resolve on its own with the help of at-home remedies such as rest, ice or heat therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers. A more severe case of a pinched nerve may not go away on its own, and the damage to the nerve could require specialized treatment and care to help relieve the compression.
When to See a Doctor for a Pinched Nerve?
Severe pinched nerve pain accompanied by a recent injury should get checked out by your trusted healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain and other symptoms of a pinched nerve, you should also see a doctor. In general, it is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to taking care of your health. Talk to your doctor if your pinched nerve pain starts to affect your daily activities and routines. A few signs and symptoms that indicate it may be time to see a doctor include severe pain, numbness, or weakness for an extended period of time and symptoms that get progressively worse over time. In severe yet rare cases, a pinched nerve could cause unexplained weight loss or the loss of bowel and bladder control, which require immediate medical attention.
Pinched Nerve Diagnosis & Treatment Options
A proper diagnosis and treatment plan for a pinched nerve will help you recover effectively and prevent further instances.
Diagnosing a Pinched Nerve
Diagnosing a pinched nerve typically involves a physical exam and a review of your medical history. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, when they first started, and if any movements or activities make those symptoms better or worse. This is an important time to disclose any underlying medical conditions or recent injuries that may exacerbate a pinched nerve. During a physical exam, your provider may also check your sensation, strength, and reflexes in the affected area. In some cases, diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray or CT scan may be ordered for a better look at the affected area. Other tests may be necessary to rule out potential causes or to evaluate your overall health.
Chiropractic Care for a Pinched Nerve
Chiropractic care offers an all-natural approach to relieving your pain and discomfort caused by a pinched nerve. In most cases of a pinched nerve, non-invasive treatment can offer lasting relief from pinched nerve pain. Chiropractic care for a pinched nerve may include chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic massage, and a recommendation of stretches and exercises. You can also visit a chiropractor for the treatment of various types of injuries and health conditions. In fact, your chiropractor will always look for the underlying cause of your symptoms so you can experience lasting pain relief.
If you are experiencing pinched nerve pain, visit our team of chiropractors at a ProCare Medical Center for quality, comprehensive treatment and care. We will get you started on a treatment plan so you can begin experiencing pain relief as soon as possible.