Question: I have a pinched nerve in my neck that causes pain from my shoulder to my hand. Ibuprofen gives me some relief. Do you think massage would help?
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Cervical radiculopathy — the official term for neck pain from pressure on a nerve root — is usually diagnosed easily and can sometimes be helped by massage, but not always.
A physical examination can determine if you have had any loss of motor function or feeling. If so, an MRI may be ordered to see if you have a disc problem that's causing the pinched nerve. In most cases of disc disease, the condition will improve with conservative treatment alone, and massage is sometimes an appropriate part of physical therapy.
Be sure to get your doctor's approval for massage before starting it. Physical and occupational therapy is often recommended — and sometime covered by health insurance — when immediate surgery is not required and the risk of spinal cord or further nerve damage is all but absent.
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