This is one of those speculative blog posts. I don’t know for certain whether float therapy is good for a pinched nerve. So I am writing this post in order to gather information and to do some thinking that might shed some light. I have been unable to find any solid clinical information to answer the question. But I’ve found some ideas, and I think it’s a strategy worth pursuing. But only do it only with your doctor’s advice.
What Is Pinched Nerve?
“Pinched nerve” is not a medical term. It’s a colloquial expression that precisely describes the condition but says little about what it’s like to have it. A pinched nerve is a nerve that’s compressed by other tissue. The compressing tissue could be ligaments or muscles, but it is usually bones. Bone spurs, which are a common part of adult life, can sometimes deform a spinal channel in which a nerve runs. The nerve gets squeezed, becomes swollen or inflamed, and begins to send pain signals.
You can get a pinched nerve anywhere in your peripheral nervous system. And these days, carpal tunnel syndrome — one type of pinched nerve — is more common than ever. But most people use the term “pinched nerve” to mean tingling, numbness, weakness or (most likely) pain in the back or neck.
How They Treat Pinched Nerve
Most often, your doctor will prescribe NSAIDs for the pain and will try to find ways to immobilize the affected nerve. This is the way most pinched nerves go, and they usually resolve in one to six weeks. The immobilizing part is tricky, because sedentariness can aggravate the condition. That’s why the doctor doesn’t throw you in a cast. But something like a soft cervical collar can restrict neck movement without eliminating it altogether.
But doctors who prescribe a soft cervical collar will usually tell you to leave it off for a couple hours each day. And they will not usually have you wear it for more than a few weeks. The compromise a soft cervical collar achieves between immobilization and normal movement is effective, but it still risks atrophy in the neck muscles.
Float Therapy for Pinched Nerve
That’s why I think float therapy could be effective in the case of a pinched nerve in the neck or back. In float therapy, you are supported without pressure or restriction. You aren’t immobilized, but you don’t move because you don’t need to. During the soft collar phase of treatment for a pinched nerve, it would be very relaxing to float for an hour during your collar-free time. And once the collar comes off for good, regular floating sessions would allow you to rest without neck movement. This might help prevent it coming back.
If you have pain radiating down your neck, and it doesn’t go away with a week of rest, see your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with the medical advice that I have no business giving you. I will say, however, that if you have muscle weakness in your arm with the pain, see the doctor with a little more urgency. There are a lot of treatment options for pinched nerve, and most of them work better the sooner you start them.
If you start wearing a soft cervical collar, ask your doctor if it makes sense to try float therapy during the some of your collar-less intervals. You can book a session with Peak Recovery & Health Center.
Photo: “Close-Up Photo of a Man Having a Neck Pain” by Kindel Media via Pexels.