Can Massage Therapy Help With a Pinched Nerve in the Back?

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A pinched nerve in your back can be debilitating. The pain is almost unbearable. Can massage therapy help with a pinched nerve in your back? Find out here.

We’re pretty sure that whoever first coined the expression “It’s a pain in the neck” was suffering from a pinched nerve.

To be clear, a pinched nerve can cause pain in your back, your arms, your legs, and yes—it can also be a pain in your butt. Medical experts estimate that 85 in 100,000 Americans suffer from pinched nerve pain every year.

If you’ve got a pinched nerve in the back (or anywhere else), no doubt you’re eager to find relief. You likely know that massage therapy offers a host of health benefits, but can it provide relief for pinched nerves?

In this post, we’ll offer professional insight into pinched nerves, along with when and how massage therapy can help your symptoms. Keep reading to learn more!

What Causes a Pinched Nerve in the Back?

First of all, let’s make sure we’re clear on what a pinched nerve is.

A pinched nerve is also called a compressed nerve. It occurs when the bones in your spine or surrounding soft tissue place pressure on a nerve. This could happen from poor posture, repetitive movements, or a herniated disc.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Radiating pain (dull or sharp)
  • Muscle weakness
  • “Pins and needles” sensation

Most pinched nerves originate in the neck or back, although the problem can also occur in the arm (tennis elbow) or wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome). Another common example is sciatica, which causes pain in the low back, hip, and leg.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and you can’t find relief on your own, be sure to get checked out by a doctor. Once you have a diagnosis, you’ll be better equipped to find the right treatment.

Can Massage Therapy Help a Pinched Nerve?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it depends on the source of your pinched nerve. Let’s discuss the two most common causes of pinched nerves and see when massage therapy might help.

Pinched Nerves Caused by Soft Tissues

You might automatically associate a pinched nerve with a spinal problem, but that’s not always the case. For many people, their pinched nerve pain is a result of tight muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

For example, strained muscles and tendons in your wrist can place pressure on the median nerve and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A long cycling workout can tighten your hip muscles and place pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing nerve pain in your leg.

In these cases, massage therapy could offer terrific relief for your symptoms. One of the primary goals of massage is to encourage your muscles to relax, soften, and lengthen. If your soft tissues are causing nerve compression, massage can get them to relax and will take that painful pressure off the nerve.

You might not experience full relief from one massage session, especially if you’ve had the condition for a while. A series of regular massages, however, could give your body what it needs to heal itself.

Pinched Nerves Caused by Spinal Compression

What if you’re diagnosed with a herniated disc or another spinal problem that’s causing your nerve pain? Can massage help with these cases?

This is a two-part answer.

First, keep in mind that massage therapists work with the body’s soft tissues, not the bones. If you do seek massage therapy to help with pinched nerve pain, your therapist will only work on the related muscles, tendons, and ligaments—not on the bone or disc.

To care for the affected bone or disc, your doctor will come up with an individualized treatment plan. This might include chiropractic care, cortisone injections, or (in severe cases) surgery. Any or all of these options might be necessary, depending on what’s happening with your body.

So, while massage therapy will not “fix” a herniated disc or similar problem, it can give you some relief in the meantime. Of course, you’ll want to get your doctor’s approval before you consider massage or any other therapy for pinched nerve pain relief.

Best Types of Massage for Pinched Nerves

If you’re ready to try massage to ease your pinch nerve pain, what type of body massage should you book?

Swedish massage would be a good place to start. Your therapist will use light-to-medium pressure and a series of long gliding strokes to relax your muscles and nervous system. They might also incorporate some gentle stretching to lengthen your muscles and relax your joints.

For a pinched nerve in the lower back, a deep tissue massage could provide more relief than a standard Swedish massage. The muscles in the low back, butt, and hips are dense, and more pressure might be needed to get them to relax. Your therapist might use a combination of long strokes, kneading, and cross-friction massage to release any areas of tension.

Whichever type of massage you book, communication with your therapist is key. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’d like more (or less) pressure in a certain area. If you listen to your body and give feedback to your therapist, you can work together to find relief for your pinched nerve pain.

Get Relief for Your Pinched Nerve Today

A pinched nerve in the back can be a minor annoyance, a debilitating condition, or anywhere in between.

The good news is that there are many safe, natural, and effective ways to treat pinched nerves. Before you reach for that bottle of painkillers or sign up for invasive surgery, why not give your body the chance to heal itself?

If you’ve talked to your doctor and gotten their approval, book a massage appointment with Faces Spa. You might be surprised at the relief you experience in the hands of a skilled therapist!

Do you have questions or concerns you want to address first? Give us a call at (402)384-8400 today.

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