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Can Physical Therapy Help A Pinched Nerve?

Can Physical Therapy Help A Pinched Nerve?

by Erik Krol, MOT, OTR/LLeave a Comment

A compressed nerve, otherwise commonly called a pinched nerve, can be debilitating and, at the very least, frustrating. Knowing the root cause of the nerve injury, whether it be from an internal cause like scar tissue or an external cause like crutches/or hard surfaces, can help create a plan of action and care.

Your nerves create a highway of fibers throughout your body, acting as a communication system to move better and feel efficient and safe. When there is compression or trauma to a nerve, circulation and vascular changes can occur in the involved body area. These changes can result in functional challenges, pain, or numbness and tingling in the region of the nerve1.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

A comprehensive assessment from a physical therapist can help determine where a nerve problem may be coming from. Through testing of strength, mobility, and sensation, a therapist can create an individualized plan of care which can include special stretches (sometimes known as glides) of nerves and muscles to improve pain, as well as mobility. A therapist can also use manual skills to improve swelling and mobility of an affected area. If muscle weakness (or muscle wasting) from an involved nerve is the main limitation, a strengthening program may be created to support a patient’s goals. Sometimes, a custom-made splint, or orthosis, is needed to preserve or correct postures. Lastly, re-training certain nerve segments to help tolerate touch and temperature after a nerve injury is part of one’s therapy1.

The above are general ideas of what one may expect when working with a therapist for a pinched nerve. However, there are many additional ways that working with a licensed therapist can help. If you feel that you’re experiencing a pinched nerve or are seeking ways to reduce pain and get back to an active life, start by scheduling a free assessment at a location near you. Our team will assess your condition and recommend treatment options, which may include starting physical therapy. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.

Schedule a Free Assessment

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Cooper, Cynthia. Fundamentals of Hand Therapy; Clinical Reasoning and Treatment Guidelines for Common Diagnoses of the Upper Extremity (2014).

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About the Author:
Erik J. Krol is a Hand Therapist/Occupational Therapist, father of two, runner, and former college athlete. Erik uses his background education in kinesiology and professional training in hand therapy to provide recommendations on preventing injuries during daily roles and routines. Follow Erik's work and interests in remaining healthy and, more importantly, functional to achieve family, work, and personal goals while combating the environmental and aging challenges.

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