A pinched nerve can cause painful symptoms that are disruptive to your everyday life. Most people find relief with a combination of conservative pinched nerve treatments, while some require surgical intervention.

Conservative pinched nerve treatment options

Most people that suffer from a pinched nerve find that a combination of conservative treatment options effectively manages pinched nerve symptoms so the body can heal itself and return to normal functioning. Conservative pinched nerve treatment options include:

  • Rest. Sometimes the body needs rest in order to heal. A pinched nerve causes swelling and inflammation along with other painful symptoms. Resting the area for a few days can allow the body’s natural healing process to repair the damage and reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Heat and ice therapy. Heat therapy can be applied with an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, hot towels, a rice sock, an instant heat pack or a hot bath. Ice therapy can be applied using a frozen gel ice pack, a plastic bag filled with ice and water, an instant cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or an ice bath. Alternating between heat and ice therapy increases blood flow to the affected area and reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • Pain medication. Over-the-counter pain medication can help to control painful symptoms caused by a pinched nerve. Medication can help to reduce swelling and inflammation so your body can heal.
  • Physical therapy. As part of your pinched nerve treatment plan, your physician may prescribe physical therapy. During physical therapy you will work with a therapist who will teach you tailored stretches and exercises that you can perform to help alleviate your pinched nerve symptoms and help your body heal.
  • Complementary and alternative medicine. Some patients find success with complementary and alternative medicine treatments such as chiropractic care, yoga, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, massage and acupuncture.

In addition to conservative treatment, your physician may also recommend lifestyle modification to help with pinched nerve symptoms. Losing excess weight, increasing physical activity, avoiding high-impact and contact sports, reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking can all help to improve your overall health and reduce pinched nerve symptoms.

Surgical pinched nerve treatment

If conservative pinched nerve treatment has failed to resolve symptoms after a few months, you may require surgical intervention. A pinched nerve cannot be left untreated as the muscle and nerve damage can become permanent and the pain can become chronic. Minimally invasive procedures can be used for pinched nerve surgery to optimize outcomes and minimize risk.