View Full Version : Pinched nerves ...

09-02-2003, 09:35 AM
Has anyone had a pinched nerve? My DF is in agony. He's had this pinched nerve for about two weeks, and the pain hasn't subsided. The nerve is supposedly in his neck, and it's causing a lot of pain in his shoulder. His index finger is numb. He can't sleep at night.

He's been going to physical therapy, but that's not doing much.

I'm wondering if anyone out there can shed light on how long it takes to heal, and if there's anything he can do that he's not currently doing. He has an appointment at the chiropractor this morning.

09-02-2003, 09:41 AM
No words of wisdom, except I'm sorry your DF is suffering.

Have they determined if it's "unpinched?"

09-02-2003, 10:28 AM
I had a pinched nerve while I was pregnant with my son 11 years ago. I don't remember how long until it went away, but I know the physical therapy helped relatively quickly. The other thing is do they know what caused the pinched nerve? It sounds like it is in your husband's neck, right? The major causes of it if I remember right was a new car or new pillows or new bifocals. Anything that would cause him to hold his head differently (mine was that my first son was getting taller and when he sat on my lap for stories I was putting my chin higher up).

He should be feeling better soon .... if not I would ask the therapist when he should be feeling relief.


09-02-2003, 11:33 AM
Jen...I have been there! He may need some muscle relaxers to help. I had a pinched nerve the same as DH and it took a good month or two to finally relax. Has he tried taking some motrin or something similar? Tell him I feel his pain! ;)

09-02-2003, 12:46 PM
Thanks, everyone.

He's been taking lots of muscle relaxers. His visit at the chiropractor helped, and he's actually going back at 5 for another session. I guess his neck muscles were so tight that she really can't do anything right now except massage them and ice the area. He's been favoring that shoulder for a while. Plus, he's been sleeping in funny positions to get comfortable, which has made everything worse. Even I could tell that that side of his body was extra tight.

I hope he's better before our wedding! Yikes. I don't think he can handle another week of this.

09-02-2003, 05:10 PM
Please tell you DF to be very careful with any "manual" adjustments. I had a pinch in my neck - random movement after years of holding the phone b/w my shoulder and ear caused this to happen. Spent two days in complete agony - and another 2 weeks to a month in some form of discomfort. My Doctor - and other docs I came in contact with (I work in the medical area) including neurosurgeons warned me away from having adjustments - they all felt that this often caused more problems long term. (But, helped short-term - so please be careful.)

My neck is still weak - so to speak -(It gets stiff quicker than before and if I forget and hold the phone in that way I know it but PT -and yoga have been helping build it back up.

09-03-2003, 05:29 PM
What about going to a certified massagist instead of a chiropractor? My thinking being massagists work with muscles while chiropractors work more with "adjustments" and bones. I sure hope he gets better! My DH threw out his back 3 weeks before our wedding. Good luck! :)

09-04-2003, 07:39 AM
One of these days I'll smarten up and copy & save this message so I can copy/paste every few months when this topic rears its head! First of all, "pinched nerves" are a pretty rare phemomenon. I could go into what is really happening here, most likely, but you probably don't care because it's painful either way! What most people refer to as "pinched nerves" are what doctors of chiropractic deal with on a daily basis and refer to as subluxations.

If the muscles spasmed for some reason, like an injury, and subsequently started affecting the nerves and resulting in the nerve pain, then physical therapy would probably hep rather quickly. A more likely scenario in this case is that your husband subluxated something in his neck and that is causing the nerve pain, as well as the muscle spasms. A physical therapist can't deal with this type of trauma because they have zero training in diagnosing and treating subluxations. Same for massage therapists. Not to say that these things are bad, but you have to use the right tool for the right problem. You wouldn't call your dentist for a skin problem or go to your podiatrist to get a root canal, so goes it for the chiropractor.

Muscle relaxers and pain killers may be helpful for the symptoms of this problem but they don't correct the problem whatsoever, so be aware of that. A good analogy would be if your engine light came on one day while driving your car. You could either take the car to a mechanic, find out what's wrong and fix it, or you could put piece of electrical tape over the light and keep driving. Painkillers and muscle relaxers are electrical tape for your body. Nothing too wrong with using them short term but the problem needs to be addressed or it'll come back with a vengeance.

In my experience, most cases of acute muscle spasm and pain in the neck is almost always an upper cervical (first bone in the spine at the base of the skull) subluxation that affects the nucleus of the Spinal Accessory Nerve. This nerve controls some of the muscles in the neck. Usually there is immediate pain on one side of the neck, sometimes for no discernible reason and others while lifting or moving weird, and the muscles really lock up on the same side. Very painful. This condition is called torticolis and I've never had to adjust a patient more than three times in the period of a few days for them to have complete relief of the problem. Other chiropractors using other methods may have better or worse success with it, but if you get to it as quickly after the trauma as possible the better and quicker the results.

My Doctor - and other docs I came in contact with (I work in the medical area) including neurosurgeons warned me away from having adjustments - they all felt that this often caused more problems long term. (But, helped short-term - so please be careful.)

Doctors love saying this and it's the biggest misconception I've ever heard. I know lots of people who have had regular chiropractic care since birth and they have no problems from chiropractic. This is usually a statement based on misinformation that floats around in the medical community. I have lots of medical doctors and nurse practitioners that refer patients to my office and none of them are worried about either manual adjustments or long term chiropractic care. These warnings are not based on anything found in the research.

One misconception about chiropractic care is that you walk through the door, lie down and crunch! That's not how it works at all. You fill out pretty much the same paperwork, if not more complete (in my case) than what you would at an MD's office. I do a 30 minute examination that tests reflexes, sensory and motor nerves, orthopedic tests, posture, chiropractic-specific procedures and ranges of motion measured with orthopedic-standard dual inclinometers. I usually take x-rays of the problem area to get a complete idea of what the problem is and I spend a minimum of 20 minutes interviewing the patient and taking a complete health history. After putting all of that information together and analyzing my x-rays then I make a decision about if the patient would benefit from chirorpactic care and the best way to adjust them. A lot of care and work goes into it, so the idea that chiropractic can cause damage is pretty silly. I will gladly discuss the numbers of problems people have had with being adjusted versus standard medical care any day. There just isn't a comparison when it comes to safety.

Good luck with your husband and he should be feeling great in a few days. If not, send him to MI and I'll take a look! ;)

09-04-2003, 08:49 AM
Well, here's the update so far:

Feeling is coming back in his index finger, and he actually slept through the night last night. However, pain is still pretty persistent. He's been going to the chiropractor every day, and she feels he needs to keep coming because the area is so "irritated." He's been icing it at night.

Regular doctor appointment is tomorrow, so I'll see if we can find out more.

It probably doesn't help that he has to use that arm a lot during the day. He's a graphic designer (with poor work posture, I have to add) so his arm is always up on the desk. It's his "mouse arm."

I'll let you know how everything goes. Thanks for the words of advice.


09-04-2003, 11:21 AM

I didn't go to a chiropracter, I went to an orthopedic surgeon and was recommended for physical therapy from there (mind you I was pregnant so I couldn't do medication :) ) I had ultrasound massage and regular massage, exercise made it worse so I didn't do that. Your husband may need someone to come out and evalulate his workspace and make sure it isn't aggravating the situation (I know if you go through workman's comp they send someone out).

Hope he feels better soon.


09-04-2003, 03:45 PM
He's been going to the chiropractor every day, and she feels he needs to keep coming because the area is so "irritated." He's been icing it at night.

I know from personal experience as a chiropractic patient as well as the way I deal with patients that less is often more when the patient is really locked up. Especially in the neck, I very rarely schedule more than one visit on back-to-back days. My way of looking at it is that the adjustment is sort of a spark that initiates the body's healing response, so you have to give it some time and not overload it. Of course, your husband's own doctor will know best for his particular situation.

Some feel-good things you can do that also help speed up healing in addition to chiropractic care include:

1) A topical cream of some sort. I like Biofreeze or Sombra best. You may be able to get these at a health food store, although I'm not 100% sure. Traumeel is a German homeopathic remedy containing Arnica which is a flower that has anti-inflammatory properties. You can usually get this at health food stores. I've used it personally and maybe it helps, but I can't say definitively. Typically stuff that is manufactured like that in Europe does what it claims to do, in my experience. May want to try it.

2) Continue icing. 20 minutes on and 60 off is a god rule of thumb. No reason to get frostbite, too. :D

3) Some herbal things that would probably be very helpful for the acute stage (assuming you get GOOD quality herbs and not the junk sold at your average GNC... ask you doctor or chiropractor) are Boswellia and While Willow Bark extract. Boswellia is an anti-inflammatory that works awesome for IBS and acute injuries and White Willow Bark is similar to aspirin, but without the nasty side effects. It seems to target musculoskeletal pain very well. Studies on high quality WWB extract have shown it to be as effective as Vioxx without the side effects. For herbs I recommend MediHerb product, manufactured in Australia (so the quality is insured, not like with USA manufacturers). Your chiropractor can get both for you if has an account with Standard Process, the American distributor for MediHerb. These together work like a charm for this type of pain, but they're a little pricy. For both expect about to pay about $48 (total, not each).

Good luck!

09-17-2003, 05:41 PM
The same exact thing happened to me last Weds. The sharp pain is in my neck, and it hurts to even inhale! I don't really have much advice (I tried aspirin, excedrin, and Alleve-to no avail), but a co-worker suggested a heating pad on the area, and another suggested sleeping on my back with no pillow. I did both last night, and at least I was able to sleep through the night. Good luck!

09-18-2003, 06:08 AM
Slowcooker, I used a heating pad too and thought that it helped. In hind-site though, I would say NOT to do this. My problems started as a crick in my neck and progressed to the nonstop throbbing pain down the arm and the numb index finger. For the crick/slight pain, I slept with a heating pad several nights. The problem got worse fast.

I tried my doctor first and she gave me pain medication. That did nothing. She then sent me to an orthopedic surgeon who gave me a steroid dose pack (probably calling it the wrong thing and explaining it wrong....something like 4 pills the first day, 3 the next, 2, and then 1. It immediately worked! Of course the orthopedic wanted to operate. I said no. Scan did not show much in the way of a slipped disk. But I had numbness down that same arm (underside). So I went to a neurologist. He said that the nerves were ok and that the feeling would come back. I then tried a physical therapist. Nothing. And then a chiropractor. I've given up on all of them.

A year later, I still have a numb arm. I just try not to lean on it and usually don't think about it. I am real careful about how I lay in bed. Often during the night I will remove a pillow (or both) so that my neck feels right.

Who knows how my problem started or if it is even comparable to the others who have posted. BUT in my non-medical opinion, I had a slight pinching and that the heating pad actually made it worse (made it swell). I wonder if I had iced it instead whether all of this would have happened. Just my experience.

Hope all are doing better. Kim

09-19-2003, 03:25 PM
Thanks for the heating pad advice, Kim. I'll go without it from now on. Sorry to hear you're still not fully healed. Hopefully more time will allow the numbness to go away. Thankfully, I'm feeling much better and was able to actually exercise today. But I'll definitely think twice aout using that heating pad again for this type of pain.
Jen, I hope your DF is doing better as well!!