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Massage for Pinched Nerve

Can You Recommend a Massage for a Pinched Nerve?

Question:

Over the past few days I’ve had this numbness down my arm that feels like a pinched nerve. I’ve tried some stretches and a few exercises I saw online, but they don’t really seem to help and I’m afraid to make it worse. Can you recommend a massage for a pinched nerve?

Answer:

A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve is compressed or damaged, either by an injury, a tense muscle, or repetitive strain.[1] While you may pinch a nerve anywhere in your body, pinched nerves in your neck, back, or shoulders tend to be the most common.[2] There are numerous ways you can relieve the pain or numbness from a pinched nerve on your own, but it sounds like you’ve tried some of these methods without results.

Research has shown that massage therapy can reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.[3] Massage therapy also helps reduce pain and pain intensity for a number of different conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, which also involves compressed or damaged nerves.[4]

If muscle tension is the cause of the pressure on your nerve, massage therapy may provide the relief you seek. Try a gentle, relaxing Swedish massage, which will loosen up your tense muscles and may release the pressure around your nerve.[5] You probably want to avoid deep tissue massage, since the deeper pressure may make the problem worse.[6]

You can schedule your massage at any time and place that is convenient for you. Avoid eating immediately before your massage, and make sure you’re well hydrated. Before your session, tell your massage therapist about your pinched nerve. When they arrive, you can show them the exact source of your pain. That will help your massage therapist tailor the massage to best respond to your condition. Make sure you also tell them about your health and medical history in general, including any medications or nutritional supplements you’ve taken.[7]

After your appointment, you may notice immediate relief in your pinched nerve. It’s also possible that it could feel worse, or be completely unchanged, which could indicate that the pinched nerve wasn’t caused by muscle tension. If it does feel better, take care not to overwork the muscles again or do too much too soon. Give your body time to rest and heal.

References:

[1] Medical News Today: “How to treat a pinched nerve” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320045.php

[2] Id.

[3] American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage Therapy for Those Who Exercise” https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-for-Those-Who-Exercise.html

[4] American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage Therapy for Pain Relief” https://www.amtamassage.org/statement6.html

[5] Happy Head Massage: “Can massage therapy help a pinched nerve?” http://www.happyheadmassage.com/can-massage-therapy-help-a-pinched-nerve/

[6] Medical News Today: “How to treat a pinched nerve” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320045.php

[7] University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing: “What Can I Expect in a First Massage Therapy Visit?” https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/what-can-i-expect-first-massage-theraphy-visit

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