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What we’ll cover
  1. What is a pinched nerve?
  2. How to treat a pinched nerve?

What to do when you have a pinched nerve

Have you ever had the uncomfortable feeling of a pinched nerve in your neck? This is referred to as radiculopathy. Our physiotherapist Amelia Thomas explores radiculopathy and how you can treat it.

What to do if you have a pinched nerve

What is a pinched nerve?

The spine is made of many bones called vertebrae and your spinal cord runs through a canal in the centre of these bones. Spinal nerve roots are branches off the spinal cord that exit the spine and supply different areas of the body with movement and carry sensory information back to the brain. Radiculopathy is where one or more of these spinal nerves are compressed, damaged or irritated. A big cause is narrowing of the space where the nerve exits the spinal column such as a stenosis, bone spurs, degeneration, or disc herniation. Radiculopathy can manifest at different areas along the spine cervical, thoracic or lumbar. Pain and neural symptoms can typically radiate down along a spinal nerve root. Pain can be accompanied by tingling, pins and needles, muscle weakness and loss of reflexes.

Sometimes, radiculopathy can be accompanied by myelopathy — compression of the spinal cord itself. Herniated or bulging discs can sometimes press on the spinal cord and on the nerve roots. When the spinal cord is involved, the symptoms can be more severe, including poor coordination, trouble walking and paralysis. A common inclusion of lumbar radiculopathy is sciatica. An irritation to the nerve root that comprises the sciatic nerve can radiate pain along the lower back, gluteal region and the back of the thigh all the way to the foot.

The duration of radiculopathy could last for as short as a few seconds or as long as a few hours, days, or weeks, or occasionally indefinitely depending on the cause.

How to treat a pinched nerve?

Diagnosis is made by a subjective examination (discussing the history and pattern of the symptoms) and a physical exam including strength testing, reflex testing and special neural tests. Depending on the severity, imaging such as an MRI may be necessary.

Treatment is dependent on the cause, however conservative management first is almost always the best option. This includes a doctor review to discuss the use of medication like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and opioids for symptom and pain management. Physical therapy can also decrease or diminish symptoms and then further prevent their return due to poor strength and stability around the lumbar spine. Some people may need more advanced treatments, such as surgery. Surgery is typically used to reduce the pressure on the nerve root by widening the space where the nerve roots exit the spine. This may involve removing all or parts of a disc and/or vertebrae.

Radiculopathy can’t always always be prevented, however you may reduce your risk by maintaining strong and stable throughout your lumbar cervical and thoracic spine, staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight. Using best practices for good posture while sitting, playing sports, exercising or lifting heavy objects is also important for preventing injuries.

If you are experiencing pinched nerve please book in to see one of our qualified physiotherapists as soon as possible. You can book online or call our friendly team on 9571 6888.


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Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone. Shoulder impingement can be incredibly frustrating and painful. 

Tony has been working closely with our physiotherapists Vernon and Dilen to get on top of his shoulder pain. His treatment plan has included hands-on physiotherapy and individualised exercises in our hydrotherapy and strength programs.

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