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Pinched Nerves

Posted by Vicki on 03/29/2016

Pinched nerves are one of the most common problems causing pain in the back, neck or extremities. A pinched nerve will cause pain in whatever part of the body it controls. If you have a pinched nerve in your lower neck, it can cause pain at the point where it is being pinched as well in the shoulder or arm area. Often an MRI is done to see what is causing the pinched nerve. The MRI can help identify at what specific point the nerve is being pinched, also known as “impinged nerve”. Many times the cushion that sits between each section of the spine, “the disk” can be seen to be protruding or extruding out into the space where the nerve sits. This diagram shows the disk or cushion between the 4th and 5th Lumbar vertebrae (L4-L5) extruding onto the nerve shown in blue.


A protrusion of a disk is very common in people who have no pain or symptoms at all and can be mistaken as the problem. It is common of a tightness of the muscle tissue that attaches to the vertebrae to cause the spine to get narrow on the side of the muscle tightness and cause a pinch on the nerve. This muscle tightness doesn’t show up on MRI and can be easily overlooked when trying to get to the actual cause of the problem. The two most common muscles that attach to the spine causing the narrowing are the scalene muscle in the neck and the quadratus lumborum/psoas muscle in the low back.


Looking at these pictures, imagine if the muscles were tight and tilting the spine downward toward the bottom, causing the nerves to be pinched. This common problem has been very overlooked in treatment of the spine. Here are the stretches to treat the muscle tightness and begin to take the “pinch” off the nerves and reduce pain.



Quadratus Lumborum stretch



Scalene stretch


Doing these stretches daily can reduce your pain as well as reducing the pinch on the nerves of your neck and lower back. As with any exercise, please consult your physician before starting any new activity. It is quite possible that these stretches can keep you from needing to have surgery. If this goes undiagnosed after a surgery, can lead to multiple surgeries.

Contact us today if we can help you reduce pain and get you back to pain free living.