Ask the Chiropractor- What is a pinched nerve? Can Chiropractic help? How do you find the pinched nerve? #healthy815 www.rockforddc.com
- Hello. I'm Dr. Brant Hulsebus, chiropractor, and I'm coming at you today with another episode of "Ask the Chiropractor." What is "Ask the Chiropractor?" A lot of people have questions for a chiropractor or maybe about chiropractic care and they go and they ask their family doctor, or maybe a friend, or somebody who doesn't really have an education on what chiropractors do. So we started these little episodes in order to help answer your questions. So if you have a question, make sure you submit it below, and maybe next time when we do this, "Ask the Chiropractor," we'll answer your question. So today's question comes from a patient. The patient came in and said they slept funny and they have a pinched nerve. They said, "I don't really know what a pinched nerve is, but it feels like I have a pinched nerve in my neck." Now, we've also heard about pinched nerves in the back. So I'm gonna briefly talk about both of them. Because the one in the neck is more common, I'm gonna start with that one, first. A lotta times, people will say they feel funny and they feel like a pinched nerve up here in their neck. Maybe it's going down into their arm, into their hands, but they feel like they slept funny or maybe lifted something funny, and now, they have the pinched nerve. So a pinched nerve in the neck is interesting because a lot of people think they have a slipped disc and there's probably pinching on the nerve. Well, in the neck, the pinched nerve in the neck is more commonly from the joints in the backside called facet joints. Now you have the disc in the front, but in the back on the side, you have two little facet joints that hold it up, too. So the disc in the front makes up where the nerve comes out. It makes up the front part of that, but the facet joints make up the backside of that. Swelling in either place can irritate the nerve. So when the facet joint's irritated, it also causes a lotta times where people consider to be a pinched nerve. Let me break this down for you a little bit. The inflammation's in the joint and the swollen joint's there and it hits that nerve, wherever that nerve goes, the discomfort and the stress goes with it. So if I have a pinched, an irritated nerve in my neck, chemicals are dumped out in that joint space, they're called catecholamines. The nerve picks up those catecholamines and that stress response goes down and tells the body there's something wrong. This is when you go see the chiropractor and you say, "I have a pinched nerve in my neck and I have a pain right here." Well, the reason the neck, we usually assume it's coming from the facet joint is because of vertebral bodies the bones with the disc sit, They actually have a shallow lip around them in the neck, just in the neck. You can see this little arch that kinda comes up and around and it kinda acts like a lip to kinda keep the disc in there. So usually, when there's a pinching going on in the neck, we tend to lean more towards the fact that's probably the joint in the back side. Now, when somebody says, "I have a pinched nerve in my lower back," we don't think that. We usually think it's more the disc 'cause you see your disc is like a giant balloon, and if you step on one side of the balloon, the other side will herniate or bulge, and if you stop stepping on the other side, the disc will go back into place. So as chiropractors, it's our job to try to figure out whether or that's what's going on in the back, in the lower back, also. Not to say that they can't happen in either spot. You can definitely have a disc problem in the neck and you can definitely, definitely have a facet problem in the lower back. I'm just telling you typically, when people come in to complain about having a pinched nerve, that's what they're referring to. They're referring to either the facet joint, the joint in the back side of the neck or the disc and the lower back. So that's what we look for. So if you came to the chiropractor and you were a new patient, you've never been here before, and you walked in the door and you said, "I think I have a pinched nerve in my neck or a pinched nerve in my lower back." Well, as chiropractors, what we do here in my office is we would start off by taking some X-rays of your spine. We'd wanna see it because whether it's a swollen disc or a swollen facet joint, there's inflammation in there, and when there's inflammation in there, the body will tend to lean away from it. So when we take your x-rays, we'll see that there's a spot where the wedging occurs, where the two vertebrae are supposed to sit nice and flat and they start to sit, you know, one's a little higher, there's a little bit of a wedge going on between the disc spaces, and we can see right there, we can hypothesize right there that you have a swollen joint. Now, the only way to know for sure would be a MRI, and by then, we can see the joint, and of course, a Motion MRI would tell us even more, but for practicality sakes of the normal chiropractic clinic, we tend to just go with the x-rays now. In my office, if we find there's more involved, we will send you out for an MRI. We have an MRI place right down the street that we work very well with, but I would say majority of the people do not need the MRI. Majority of the people just need the x-rays. So we'll take the x-rays and it'll help guide us to find the spot. From there, if you tell us like, you know, it's going down this part of my hand right here where your thumbs and forefinger are, that usually tells us it's the C6 nerve. This one here, the middle finger, tells us it's the C7 nerve, excuse me, 7, and these two little fingers usually tell us it's the C8 nerve. So those little clues, too, also help guide us in the right direction. So between doing a little bit of a range-of-motion test on you, seeing how you lay and how you carry yourself, and also your x-ray findings, and what do I mean by how you lay and carry yourself? Well, if my joint right here is swollen, I'm gonna lean away from it. So when I come in the chiropractor, I'm gonna come in like this, and if it's been there for a long time, I'm not gonna come in like this, I'm gonna self-correct it. I'm gonna come in like this, where now I have a high shoulder and a low shoulder. That's what we look for when we look at you. So between that and your x-ray findings. So we have the neurological findings and we have the posture findings. We have the motion, range-of-motion findings, and lastly, we have the x-ray findings. It gives us a good indicator of how to take care of you and what adjustments you may or may not need. A lot of people wanna know how many times will I have to come for this? Well, I've known many videos on how many times will I have to come? And the bottom line is it all depends on what's going on. It all depends on how severe it is. How long has it been there? How long have you been dealing with it? Do you have arthritis? Is your posture good? Is your posture bad? Do you have a rotational component? I talked about the wedging, but it could also turn. So if you have a rotational and a wedding going on, that takes longer to take care than if you only had one or the other. So these are all factors that play into a role of how long does it take to get better? How much care do I need and how long will I have to come in? Also, if you were healthy and strong going into it, you'll recover faster than say somebody who's not. So these are all indicators of what's going on, and if you've had a pinched nerve in your neck and you've been involved in like eight car accidents over the year and you've never seen a chiropractor before, we can assume that your care will take longer, again, because you've had no prior care in previous injuries. So this is Memorial Day weekend I'm recording this and I know the first thing that's gonna happen when we're reopen on Tuesday is we're gonna have a lotta people come in, over the weekend that were planting their garden, that were barbecuing too much or grilling too much, playing with the kids or something like that. They're gonna come in and tell me they have a pinched nerve in their neck. So I kinda wanted to review what a pinched nerve is so you can understand how chiropractors take care of it. Well, again, I'm Dr. Brant Hulsebus. I'm a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. I'm the team chiropractor for the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks AAA team. I've worked with sports chiropractic now for 17 years on various teams. I'm also a certified chiropractic wellness practitioner, who always studied wellness in the care, like supplements, vitamins, diet, and stuff like that, exercise, and also the muscle between your ears, we work on that one, too, and I've also got a chiropractic degree in philosophy. So if you have any questions that you would like me to answer, whether you live in my community or you don't, feel free to leave a comment below message the office. We are at rockforddc.com. R-O-C-K F-O-R-D DC, as in doctor of chiropractic, so rockforddc.com. Go ahead and contact us there, send us a message, and maybe next time, when you see our video, we'll be talking to about your question of the week. All right, everybody, stay happy, stay safe, and if you need anything, let us know, thank you.