What’s the best drug for a pinched nerve?

drugsIf you have a pinched nerve, I have some bad news for you.  Your body protects your brain and nervous system from anything in your blood stream.  That’s vitally important because when you have an infection, it will often get into your blood stream.  If an infection is able to get into your brain or your nerves there is now a much bigger problem (like seizures or death).

This blood-brain barrier between your blood stream and your nervous system is a good design except for one problem. When you take a drug by mouth, it can never get to your nerves because of your blood-brain barrier.  So, what’s the best drug to take for a pinched nerve? None – the meds can’t get to your nerves.

In the medical world, they will often prescribe opiates or anti-depressants for a pinched nerve.  With the opiates, you just don’t care how much it hurts.  With the anti-depressants, they are trying to redirect the pain signals from your nerves to a different area of your brain, so you don’t have as much perception of pain.

Does that work?  Sometimes.

Is that a long term solution to a pinched nerve?  No.

If there is a structural problem that is irritating a nerve, you need a structural solution.  That sounds simple and obvious – except that the medical world didn’t get it yet. Unless you count physical therapy or injecting steroids into your spinal canal.  The neurosurgeon will tell you to try conservative care first and surgery is last resort.

Chiropractic is a good structural solution for many pinched nerves.  It is the ONLY effective solution for some.

Are you one of those?

If you need to heal, see Dr. Neal!

I don’t care how bad it hurts

Okay, maybe I do, but the take away here is that the level of pain you’re having isn’t always the important factor. Bad pain doesn’t necessarily mean a surgical level problem. Nerve irritation is why you feel pain, but that’s also true with numbness (a lack of sensation). Whether it hurts a lot or just a little, the amount of pain you’re feeling is not the determinant of what treatment you need.

I have seen patients crying in pain, carried into my clinic by two friends, yet they have a simple and easy-to-fix problem. Then, I have seen patients who have minimal pain in an emergency surgery case.

The key is to discover the cause of your nerve irritation. Once you know what’s irritating your nerves, the answer to your best treatment plan is easier.

Keep in mind that the medical world is generally not fond of patients with a pinched nerve because there really aren’t any medications to treat them. (I’ll address that specifically in my next blog discussion). Talk to a doctor who has non-drug treatment options at their disposal.

A great first opinion would be a chiropractor who uses rehab, chiropractic, physical therapy, Class IV laser therapy, and deep tissue therapeutic massage. If it appears to be medical or surgical level problem, your chiropractor should recognize that and send you to the right doctor or surgeon.

If you need to heal, see Dr Neal.

When is it really a pinched nerve?

Pinched Nerve

Photo from: www.ravispine.com

It’s a complicated question.  Nerves go to every inch of your body, and every one of those nerves exists between two of the vertebrae in your spine.  If you have a spinal problem that is pinching or irritating a nerve, you may feel pain in one specific area OR it may hurt along the entire length of that nerve.  This is the type of problem that I treat.  As a board certified chiropractic neurologist, I am absolutely a nerve doctor.

Remember the leak in my kitchen ceiling?  It’s not a ceiling problem…  That’s just where it showed up.  The leak started 40 feet away, ran along a rafter, then a pipe for the exhaust fan, then dripped down to my ceiling.  I had a flashing problem 40 feet away, not a ceiling problem.

If your bedside lamp has a break in the wire, it can be a break at any point from the plug to the light bulb but it’s gonna show up at the bulb.  That light bulb will either get really bright the second before it blows, or it simply goes out.

The same thing happens with nerves.  You can pinch one and have searing pain that drops you to the floor, or you can pinch one and have numbness.

What you should do about it?

The very best news about a pinched nerve is that less than 1% of those are surgical cases.  The other 99+% need conservative care.  You need spinal realignment, physical therapy, and rehab – and maybe therapeutic massage and some Class 4 laser therapy, too.

If you need to heal, see Dr Neal.