What is a Pinched Nerve? and Yoga Treatment for it.

A pinched nerve is one type of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves.. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function. 
Compression, constriction or stretching may cause a pinched nerve. Other common conditions that may develop are carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. The extent of the damage could be temporary; however the damage could also become permanent. Before understanding the pinched nerve we should understand the spine.

Understand Spine and how it Works

It is important to understand the anatomy of the spine when determining whether you suffer from a pinched nerve.

There are vertebrae that are located in three areas of the spine. The first area is the cervical spine (neck); the second is the thoracic (middle back); the third is the lumbar spine (lower back).

Each vertebra is separated by a disc. Surrounding the vertebrae are nerve roots and nerves and surrounding the nerves are tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Now that the main parts of the spine have been identified, it is important to understand the function of the vertebrae and discs. The vertebrae allow for flexibility and also protect the spinal cord. The disc acts as a shock absorbing cushion due to its soft, water like substance contained within the nucleus of the disc.

Depending on the location of the pinched nerve, will determine the condition you may experience.

For example, a herniated disc in your lower spine may cause the sciatica nerve to be compromised. If the sciatica nerve is pinched, the pain will radiate through the buttocks and down the leg. Similarly, if pressure is applied to nerves in your neck, shoulder, elbow or other areas of your body, the pain will travel outward from the nerve to the affected area of your body. 

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The Body and its Nerves

The nerves in your body begin at your brain and extend through your arms and legs relaying messages to your skin and muscles. 

Peripheral nerve – this grouping of nerves leave the spine and spans into your arms and legs.  They are made up of millions of nerve fibers that branch out from the spinal cord to various areas of the body controlling muscles and skin sensations. 

Nerves and Their Functions

  • Efferent nerves – Nerves that send stimulatory signals to muscles and glands from the central nervous system
  • Afferent nerves – Nerves that send sensory signal from either skin or organ to the central nervous system
  • Neurons – Long thin nerve cells with the purpose of sending and receiving chemical-electrical messages for the nervous system

Each peripheral nerve has a thick covering called the epineurium and a thin layer of underlying cells which form a sleeve called the perineurium. 

Nerves are then divided into a multitude of fibrous bundles surrounded by the endoneurial sheath.  The peripheral nerves are supplied with an abundance of blood and nutrients. 

When the supply becomes “pinched” the nerve begins to malfunction with the possibility of the nerve fibers eventually dying.

Now that we understand what a nerve is and how it functions, it is easier to understand what happens when a nerve becomes pinched and how important it is to seek medical diagnosis and treatment as early as possible.

Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the pinched nerve.  In the neck and shoulder, general symptoms will be felt in the arms and/or hands.  If the sciatic nerve is compressed then the symptoms will be felt in the buttocks, legs and feet. 

Understanding a Pinched Nerve

When there is pressure on a nerve or set of nerves, the result may be referred to as a pinched nerve.

The main parts of the spine are comprised of 24 vertebrae and between each vertebra are shock absorbing discs. The vertebrae are bony structures and the discs are soft and gelatinous.

The vertebrae provide for the flexibility in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar area of the spine. The discs provide a cushion between the vertebrae to prevent two vertebrae from touching.

The spinal canal is surrounded by nerves and nerve roots. Surrounding the nerves are tissues such as muscles and tendons.

If the cushion (disc) between the vertebrae is herniated, this is often the main cause of a pinched nerve. In a herniated or ruptured disc, the nucleus of the disc presses on the nerve or a set of nerves. Depending on the location of the herniated disc, determines the area of the body affected.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve may be tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in a particular area.

Types of pinched nerves may be those in your neck, shoulder, elbow and other areas of your body.

A pinched nerve often results from neck arthritis that form bone spurs or decreases the opening through which a nerve travels or disc problems where a herniated disc presses on the nerve.

Pinched Nerve Overview

The term pinched nerve in your back refers to a form of damage or injury done to a nerve or multiple nerves. 

A nerve pinch can be a result of injury due to compression, stretching, or constriction.  If left untreated long enough a pinched nerve can lead to other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or the rare condition peripheral neuropathy. 

These conditions are most often temporary, but may rarely develop into a permanent disability.  It is important to be properly diagnosed by a medical professional early to avoid permanent damage to the nerve.

Most people suffering from a pinched nerve will show symptoms of radiating pain, burning sensations, numbness, or a tingling sensation often referred to as “pins and needles”.  If you have ever had your hand or foot “fall asleep”, it is due to a nerve being compressed.  In rare cases damage from a pinched nerve will be irreversible, but most often with a quick diagnosis and a proper treatment plan the damage can be repaired. 

Often when people talk about a pinched nerve pain they are just making assumptions without much knowledge of the topic.  The answer to understanding a pinched nerve lies in understanding the spinal cord and the nerve types that can become pinched.

Symptoms of a Pinched
Nerve

The Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve may Include:

  • A numbness or decrease in sensation to the area supplied by the nerve
  • A pain that radiates outward that is sharp or burning
  • Straining or coughing and sneezing
  • The feeling of pins and needles or a feeling of your foot or hand falling asleep
  • Muscle weakness

Diagnosing a Pinched Nerve

To diagnose a pinched nerve, your doctor will determine the history and experience of the pain. The questions your doctor may ask are: when you first started to experience the pain; have you started a new sport or activity; have you started an exercise program or altered your current exercise program; have you suffered from a recent injury or perhaps a past injury.

Your doctor will then want you to describe the pain you are experiencing, including the areas of pain; what you may be doing when the intensity of the pain increases; are you experiencing headaches; or if any activity or movement worsens or betters the pain.

A physical exam will assist your doctor in determining how your neck is functioning. This may include asking you to bend your neck; to roll your head in various directions; whether you can rotate or twist your neck; and whether you are experiencing any tenderness to the touch.

There are also tests that may be performed in determining whether you have a pinched nerve. This may include examining the nerves exiting your spine by testing numbness; reflexes; strength of muscles.

Risk Factors for a Pinched Nerve

There are a number of factors that may increase the risk in experiencing a pinched nerve. These may be: Repetitive job activities; Poor posture; Osteoarthritis; Sports or hobbies requiring repetitive movements; and Obesity.

Preventing a Pinched Nerve

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain good posture
  • Regular exercise or Yoga that includes strength and flexibility exercises
  • While engaging in sports and hobbies, be mindful of any activities that may have repetitive movement and limit those movements

Prognosis of a Pinched Nerve

With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a short time and most often with no permanent damage. Nerve function becomes normal as well as the pressure relieved. Should the pressure continue, however, chronic pain and permanent nerve damage may occur?

What is a Sciatic Nerve?

Running from the base of the spinal cord through to the feet is the largest nerve in the body. This nerve is the sciatic nerve. Here you can read 6 yoga stretches for lower back pain.

Causes of a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

A common cause of a pinched sciatic nerve is a herniated lumbar disc. A herniated disc occurs when the disc ruptures in the area of the back and side. This may be either the left or right side. This rupture usually pinches a nerve in the spinal canal and more often than not, causes sciatica.

The nerve in the pelvic area exits from the inside to the outside of the pelvis through the muscle.

It is one of the most common places of an entire pinched sciatic nerve and affects the buttocks and legs depending on the area of the pelvis that suffers from tension or spasms.

Diagnosing a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

Your physician will be able to perform an examination and/or tests to determine whether you suffer from lumbar or pelvic sciatica. Symptoms may vary with each form of sciatica and can be distinguished by the following: 
Pelvic sciatica is typically worse when in a seated position; however standing or walking often provides relief. With lumbar sciatica, being seated in certain positions often provides relief of pain and discomfort.

Pinched Nerve in Shoulder

Shoulder pinched nerve may be a painful condition, don’t stay idle because it may be worse as long you will delay it.  A proper advice and assistance is required from Dr.  But start proper yoga exercise and therapy to cover it. Yoga exercise may help to getting proper blood flow to the affected nerve as you can to avoid possible permanent injury.

Maximum times the common occurrences of pinched nerves may be in the lumber region of the spine. At the time of examine of pinched nerve, maximum times it found the affected cervical spine either the C6 or C7 nerve root. The runner up cervical pinched nerve roots passes through C5 or C8 segment. Considering this information we will look at those four nerve roots and examine the symptoms associated to them.

  • C5 – Due to C5 nerve root there may be possible problems like, shoulder pain along with the possibility of numb sensation in the shoulder area and weakness in the deltoid musdes.
  • C6 –There may be a pain radiating down through are and into thumb due to C6 pinched nerve.  It may feel weakness in the biceps and wrist muscles.
  • C7 – It may occur pain and numbness radiating down through the arm and in to middle finger due to C7 pinched nerve.
  • C8 – The problems occur due to C8 pinched nerve are pain  felt in the outside of the hand and numb sensation

Remedies for Pinched Nerve in Shoulder

There may be some symptoms of other problems such as, spondylitis, spondylosis, or a muscle spasm due to pinched nerve.  It is important to see a health care provider to be certain that your symptoms are not related to spondylitis as this condition has far reaching effects.  Yoga and exercise will help to make your heart healthy and help to strength to pump the required blood.

Pinched Nerve in Neck

Structure of the Neck

The cervical vertebrae referred to as the neck, have building blocks made up of bone. There are seven vertebrae that surround the spinal cord and spinal canal. Discs cushion the vertebrae due to the gelatinous material in the centre of these discs. On each side of the vertebrae and discs, are the nerves of the neck.  The neck structure is comprised of muscles, arteries, veins, glads, esophagus, larynx and the trachea. Any of these tissues in the neck may result in conditions that cause neck pain. 

What is a Pinched Nerve in Neck?

One of the most common conditions that affect the neck area is a pinched nerve. When a nerve is pinched in the neck, either one or a set of nerves are affected by excess pressure being applied to the nerve of surrounding tissues. This results in the function of the nerve being disturbed. 

Pinched nerves may be in your neck, shoulder, elbow and other parts of your body, however, the most common is said to be in your neck.

Discs are healthy and are structured to allow space to allow the nerve to easily pass through.  If the disc protrudes or is herniated, the disc then alters the structure of the neck with the result a pinched nerve. 

If there are bone spurs or neck arthritis, the structure of the neck may be altered. In this case, if a hard formation touches the nerve, the result again may be a pinched nerve.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Typical symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck may include, but is not limited to: 

  • Pain radiating outward and down from the affected nerve
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

These symptoms are dependent on the path that the nerve travels through. If you experience a strain of the muscles, or coughing and/or sneezing you may experience more discomfort and the foregoing symptoms may become worse.

Preventing a Pinched Nerve in Neck

The following may be helpful in preventing a pinched nerve: 

  • Maintain good posture and a healthy weight
  • Have a regular exercise program that includes strength and flexibility exercises and stretches
  • Limit repetitive activities

Pinched Nerve Exercises

Although your body is going to heal at its own natural pace, there may be some things that you can do to help aid in the recovery process and speed things along.  It is important to learn proper lifting and carrying techniques as many pinched nerve injuries occur at work.  Learning these methods will help to reduce your chances of aggravating the injury and lengthening its healing time.  Correct your posture, as often this will lend to the aggravation being caused to a nerve by pinching off the blood flow.  Good nutrition and an abundance of rest will also help in the healing process.

Aerobics – Pinched Nerve Exercise

Because your nerves require blood and nutrients to be pumped to them through arteries, it is very important to keep you heart healthy and working at maximum efficiency.  Being inactive, sitting at a computer all day, laying in bed or just plain and simple leading a lazy lifestyle is a recipe for disaster.  It is important to mix in a good aerobic exercise routine to keep you heart in good condition.  By increasing the hearts condition more blood and nutrients can be pumped to the pinched nerve helping the nerve to heal quicker. 

Prolonged bed rest and low activity levels will also start to take its toll on other functions, affecting you ability to see, think, and hear properly.  It is estimated that for a forty five year old man to make it through the day, he will require an expenditure of forty five percent of his normal strength and by the time that man is seventy five he will require an astonishing ninety percent of his power to do the same.  Due to this fact, as we as it is important to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Yoga for Pinched Nerve

There are 12 yoga poses which can help to get relief from all kind of pinched nerve. Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev have suggested these all yoga poses as well Pranayama for all kind of problems in body,

Sukshama Vyayama Yoga / Micro Yoga Exercises

There are 7 Parts of Micro Yoga Exercise

Spread you both hands in the front and then both the thumbs turn inward and close the fist.

suksham-vyayam-one
suksham-vyayam-one

Both fists rotate round in front. While practicing this asana, you have to take long breath and then release it slowly. Do this exercise 20 to 30 times at work.

Both the hands have to be placed on both the shoulders; join the both elbows to each other. Both the elbows have to revolve around the shoulders in the circle.

suksham-vyayam-two
suksham-vyayam-two

Take a deep breath and then leave slowly. This practice has to be done slowly.

You have to hold the wrist of your right hand with the left hand and the wrist of the left hand with the right hand.

suksham-vyayam-three
suksham-vyayam-three

Then you have to stretch the left hand towards the right shoulder  from the back of the head from the top of the shoulders. In this way, you have repeated the process with the right hand as well. You can do this exercise 4 to 7 times.

The fingers of both the hands have to fix with each other and both hands have to be placed on the back of the head as a spot.

suksham-vyayam-four
suksham-vyayam-four

Press the head towards the back and hands have to press towards forward. While doing this you have to take deep breath and leave it slowly.

The left hand has to be placed on the left side of the head and then press the hand a little on the head and the head has to be pressed towards the hand.

suksham-vyayam-five
suksham-vyayam-five

Repeat this process with both hands one by one. While doing this you have to take deep breath and leave it slowly

Fix the fingers of both hand with each and place the both hands on the forehead then put pressure on the inside of your forehead. While doing this, you have to take deep breath and slowly release the breath. Repeat this practice 8 to 10 times.

Revolve the head in round circle from the neck; if there is pain in the neck, then it has to move less towards the front.

suksham-vyayam-six
suksham-vyayam-six

The fists of both hands have to be closed and then both fists have to be joined together. Both the thumbs also have to be joined together. Both fists have to press on each other and then stretch towards the front.

suksham-vyayam-seven
suksham-vyayam-seven

Fist pressure should be maintained on the fist and thumb pressure should be on thumb. Taking deep breath, both fists have to be stretched in front and then slowly bring both hands to the chest while releasing the breath. Repeat this practice 6 to 7 times.

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Sit in Vajrasan posture and stand up on the knees. Keep apart the knees equal to the width of the shoulders. Both feet behind the back should be parallel to each other, Place the feet on the ground with soles up tunned.

Ushtara-asan for pinched nerve
Ushtara-asan for pinched nerve

Now bring both the hands on the waist in such a manner that thumbs may touch each other on the spine. All the four fingers of the hands should point towards the navel. Inhaling slowly, bend the neck backward, and when that bend is complete, take the hands off the waist and put them on the soles of the feet. Breath should be normal. Stay in this pose as long as possible. Come back to the original position slowly and repeat this pose for 4 to 5 times.

Pawanmukti Asana (Wind releasing Pose)

Lie down on the back and straighten the legs. Put together the heels and toes of both of the feet and stretch them forward. Stretch also the arms on respective sides with palms turned down.

pawanmukti for pinched nerve
pawanmukti for pinched nerve

Fold the right leg from the knee interlock the fingers of both the hands and inhaling place them on the right knee and press it on the abdomen. Stay in this position for a few moments. Now start exhaling, lift the head and try to touch the nose with bent knee.

pawanmukti-2 for pinched nerve
pawanmukti-2 for pinched nerve

Inhale and bring the head back in normal position. Relax the body. Repeat this practice with the left knee and thereafter with both knees. Return back and relax completely.

Chakrasan (Wheel or Circle Posture)

Lie down on the back. Bring the heels near the buttocks by bending the legs and keep a little distance between the feet.

Chakraasan for pinched nerve
Chakraasan for pinched nerve

Bending both of the hands under the shoulder, place them in such a way that the palms should rest on the ground and the direction of the fingers should be towards the feet. Now inhaling and putting pressure on the hands and feet, lift the back and hips maximum. Normalize the breath and stay in this position for a while. Exhaling return slowly. Relax the body.

Makarsan (Crocodile Posture)

Lie down flat on the back. Keep the heels and toes together. Bend the legs in such a manner that the heels should touch the hips. Now spread the hands to the left and right side in line with the shoulders.

Makar-asan for pinched nerve
Makar-asan for pinched nerve

Keep the palms facing the sky. Start inhaling and turn both of the knees to the right and neck towards the left and place the left ear and the knees on the ground. Exhaling return back. Now inhaling turn the knees to the left and the neck to the right and place the right ear and the knees on the ground exhaling, return back.

Salabh Asan (Locust Posture)

Lie flat on the abdomen. Bring both the palms of the hands under thighs in such a way that the palms should stick to the thighs and be nearer to each other. Moreover the palms should be facing towards thighs.

salabhasana for pinched nerve
salabhasana for pinched nerve

Stretch the heels and toes of both legs one by one with stretching opposite hand over the head. Rest the chin on the ground. While inhaling and without bending the knees raise the legs and hind part of the body up to the waist. Normalize the breath, stay in this posture as long as possible. Exhaling return slowly and relax on the floor.

Dhanurasan (Bow Posture)

Lie down on the abdomen. Fold both the knees and grasp the ankles with the hands. All the forefingers should be on one side onle. Bring the knees close to each other Exhaling, raise the knees first as high as possible.

Dhanurasana for pinched nerve
Dhanurasana for pinched nerve

Then inhaling, raise the neck and the hind part of the body, normalize the breath. Stay on in this position for some time. Return slowly and take rest. Repeat this pose for 3 to 4 times.

Bhujang Asana (Cobra Posture)

Lie down on the abdomen. Bring the heels and toes together and stretch them to the maximum from behind. Now bend the elbows and place the palms on either side of the chin. The gap between the palms may be equal to the gap between the shoulders. Pull back the elbows as much as possible, touching the body, and resting on the ground.

Bhujang asana for pinched nerve
Bhujang asana for pinched nerve

The position of arms should not change. The forehead should touch the ground. Inhaling, bring the chin forward and start raising the head as far back as possible, so much so that it may touch the spine. Now inhaling raise the chest and abdomen up to the naval. Breathe normally and stay in this posture. While exhaling lower the trunk very slowly but not the head. When trunk comes down completely, rest the forehead on the ground. Repeat the process for 3 to 4 times.  

Swami Ramdev always recommends Kapalbhati Pranayama for all kinds of disorders in the body. Here you can read how to do kapalbhati and it’s benefits.

Physical Therapy – Pinched Nerve Exercise

Often recommended to aid in decreasing spasms or tightness in the muscle, physical therapy and chiropractic work can be quite useful in preparing you for an active exercise program aimed at improving blood flow.  This treatment can often be very successful but if you feel your pain become worse or you start to feel new sensations of numbness or tingling it is possible that you should seek different treatment.

For temporary relief, massage therapy can be useful for loosening muscles and decreasing muscle spasms.  This will help to start getting your blood flowing but is of limited benefit if you do not continue on with an aerobic exercise routine to keep the heart pumping and the blood flowing.

If conventional treatments are not providing results for you, surgery may become a viable alternative for you.  Like most of the other pinched nerve treatments, surgery will help to correct the problem that is creating the “pinch”, but it’s up to you to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle increasing the flow of blood and nutrients sent to the damaged nerve.