Burlington Ontario Chiropractic and A Pinched Nerve

Quite often patients present to our clinic with what they describe as a “pinched nerve”.  Their symptoms can include pain, numbness, weakness, and sensations of tingling, pins and needles, feeling like an arm or leg is asleep or a dull achy throb.  These entrapments can occur almost anywhere there is a nerve.  Common areas include the neck, arms, lower back and legs.  Diagnosis can sometimes be tricky, since the symptoms don’t always occur where the nerve is being compressed.  To understand how nerve entrapments work, it is important to have a basic understanding of the anatomy…

Burlington Ontario Chiropractic and A Pinched Nerve

Burlington Ontario Chiropractic and A Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve

In simple terms, the brain descends into the spinal cord which has nerves that branch off at every spinal level.  These nerves course between and through various structures as they head toward their destination. Entrapment can occur at the spine or closer to the destination, compressed by various tissues such as muscles, fascia or ligaments.  One of the most common examples of a nerve entrapment is what is often referred to as “sciatica” or sciatic nerve pain.


Sciatica is a frequently used term describing irritation or “pinching” of a nerve that is present in the back of the thigh and leg.  Quite often, after the nerves have exited the spinal canal they can be compressed by the spinal disc.  A proper diagnosis is crucial in this situation since a small percentage of the population can get compression of the sciatic nerve by a muscle in the gluteal region known as the piriformis, instead of the lumbar disc.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome can mimic lumbar disc herniation and sciatica.  Both of these conditions involve nerve compression and although their symptoms are similar, a treatment won’t be successful if it isn’t directed at the correct location.  For example, treatment of piriformis syndrome might involve techniques that stretch the muscle, whereas the treatment for lumbar spine nerve compression might avoid those same stretches.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – What is it?

Another common nerve entrapment involves the median nerve.  The median nerve is a nerve in the arm that travels from the area of the shoulder down to the hand.  The most talked about site of entrapment for the median nerve is at the carpal tunnel, producing numbness, tingling, pain and weakness into the hands and fingers.  These symptoms can also be reproduced with compression of the nerve roots at the neck.  Again, two conditions with similar symptoms yet the nerve compression occurs at different locations.

Treatment for a Pinched Nerve

There are various treatment approaches for nerve compression. Our clinic employs chiropractors and physiotherapists who both use a combination of manual treatments and home exercise. One treatment approach that we frequently use with nerve entrapment injuries is Active Release Technique. Active Release Technique is a popular method of breaking down dysfunctional scar tissue and thereby releasing pressure on nerves. In fact, our Active Release Practitioners have taken specific courses in nerve entrapment treatment. Unsure what is right for you? Give us a call at 905.220.7858 or email us at info@burlingtonsportstherapy.com. We can help!

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Leahy M. Active Release Techniques Peripheral Long Tract Nerve Release – Course Manual. 2005.

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