Numbness and tingling can be symptoms of nerve damage or irritation. Since there are two major causes of nerve irritation which require individualized treatments, an accurate diagnosis is critical. The most common type nerve injury is an impingement or “pinching.” This occurs when surrounding soft tissues, (muscles, ligaments, fascia) bones and tendons place undue pressure on the nerve. This pressure renders the nerve dysfunctional, resulting in pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.
Apart from impingement, exiting nerves may also affix to surrounding soft tissues, commonly as a result of repetitive motion injuries. This condition is referred to as a “trapped” nerve.
A herniated disk in the lower spine, for instance, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing a shooting pain down the back of the leg. However, pinched nerves are not restricted to the spinal column.They can occur almost anywhere in the body. A pinched nerve in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome) can result in numbness or pain in the hand and fingers.
Upon exiting the spine, nerves can become sandwiched between soft tissues, or compressed by an unhealthy disc leading to tingling, pain or numbness in other parts of the body. The area in which symptoms present are indicate the location of the pinched nerve. Case in point: nerve irritation in the neck causes symptoms to present in the shoulders, arms or hands. Similarly, nerve dysfunction in the lower back can cause numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.
Treatment for “Pinched” Nerves
Nerve irritation related to joint dysfunction or vertebral misalignment can be alleviated through chiropractic adjustments, which restores joints to their proper alignment and functionality. A professional chiropractic adjustment often provides immediate and significant pain relief. Nerve impingement caused by an injury to the disc can require supplementary treatment methods, such as the McKenzie protocol and DTS Spinal Decompression Therapy. Both of these therapeutic treatment options are available in our White Plains office. The objective of the McKenzie protocol is the reduction of nerve impingement by applying sustained pressure to the injured disc over sequential treatments. This technique serves to restore the disc to its original shape.
Alternatively, DTS Spinal Decompression Therapy alleviates pain due to pinched nerves by gently separating spinal vertebrae. Both of these technologically advanced approaches can effectively and safely eliminate pain, as well as promote preventative maintenance.
Pinched Nerve:: Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression with the DTS Spinal Decompression Machine
The DTS Spinal Decompression Machine gently separates spinal vertebrae, which draws fluid into the disc. This causes the disc to swell, allowing for an adequate and maintained distance between the bones. Thus, the nerves are now able to traverse smoothly, and pinch-free.
Herniated Disc (Disc Bulge Pressing on the Nerve):
By gently reducing spinal disc pressure, this painless, non-invasive therapeutic treatment is the foremost non-surgical alternative for treating pinched nerves, and herniated discs. DTS is a gentle, non-surgical therapy, which can relieve lower back and lumbar pain as well as symptoms of bulging or degenerative disc disease. Generally, our DTS patients experience a significant pain reduction within just a few sessions. DTS Therapy gradually straightens the spine and alleviates disc, joint and muscular tissue pressure while augmenting the body’s natural healing process.
Spinal Stenosis (the abnormal narrowing of one or more areas of the spine):
The spine surrounds and protects the spinal cord and facilitates mobility. Spinal stenosis causes constriction of the spine. Oftentimes occurring in the neck and lower back or neck, this narrowing inflicts pressure on the spinal cord or nerves exiting the spine.Symptoms include acute leg and lower back pain when standing or walking—especially when climbing stairs. Spinal stenosis commonly occurs in men and women over the age of 50. However, younger people who have suffered a spinal injury or were born with a narrow spinal canal are also susceptible. Conditions such as arthritis and scoliosis can lead to spinal stenosis, as well.
There are two viable options for treating spinal stenosis.The narrowing can be expanded through surgical procedure, allowing the nerves to traverse more easily. The option is quite risky due to the proximity of the spinal nerve and the spinal cord. In light of this, the Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression described above is the preferred and optimal treatment alternative.
DTS is a precise, computer-controlled therapeutic treatment that decompresses painful and herniated discs through an oscillating sequence of extending and relaxing the vertebra. This innovative technology functions to negate muscle spasms characteristic of the antiquated “traction” methods of days gone by. Further, our DTS unit also integrates a cutting-edge angulated elongation method that targets specific spinal discs such as the L5/S, located at the base of the spine. The term “Angulated Elongation” defines the angle at which the decompression energy is directed. This preferred therapeutic approach diminishes the need for applied strength (manually forcing the separation of vertebra) by focusing on a specific spinal segment to heal and restore individual spinal discs.
The vertebrae are gently separated using the high-tech DTS Spinal Decompression Unit. As the vertebrae begin to separate, pressure is gradually reduced within the disc (intradiscal pressure), forming a vacuum. This vacuum then draws the gelatinous center of the disc inward, thereby reducing disc bulge and/or herniation. Once the bulging and herniation are reduced, spinal nerve pressure is alleviated, which in turn, results in a marked reduction in pain and discomfort. This vacuum also disperses vital oxygen, nutrients and fluid into injured and degenerated discs, which facilitates natural, robust healing.
Nerves can also become irritated as they pass through soft tissue, a condition known as peripheral nerve entrapment. Smooth casings facilitate ease of passage through perpetually expanding and contracting muscle tissue. Think of a train passing through a tunnel. Now, when the nerves and their protective casings are damaged, scar tissue forms, creating adhesions between the casing and the nerve. Thus, numbness and tingling are often exacerbated by repetitive motions.
How Can a Nerve Become “Trapped” Within the Soft-Tissues?
Repetitive “rubbing” of sensitive soft-tissues or chronic contraction of a damaged muscle deprive the soft-tissue of vital oxygen. This lack of oxygen triggers fibroblastic activity – which plays a large role in the formation of scar tissue (fibrous tissue). As more fibrous tissue is created, muscle oxygenation, flexibility and strength diminish. As the cycle progresses, functionality deteriorates which causes symptoms to present. In fact, it can take months, even years before the first symptoms appear. Over time, the “stickiness” of the soft tissues can invade the spaces between these tissues causing them to fuse. When this occurs in proximity to the nerves, peripheral entrapment (soft-tissue nerve “pinch”) can result.
Freeing “Trapped” Nerves
Trapped nerves are most effectively treated by employing the Active Release Technique (ART). This approach is an interactive process involving both doctor and patient. Every Active Release session is actually a unique combination of examination and treatment. Dr. Donath applies controlled pressure with a thumb or finger at the site of adhesion while manipulating the affected body part through a complete range of motion. During this process, the tissue is held stationary while the nerve is gently separated from the adhesion. Oftentimes, clients experience immediate symptom relief, and are able to regain flexibility and strength.