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"Trapped Nerves"

Physical Therapy for Trapped nerves in Brighton

Woman with neck pain touching neck

What is a Trapped Nerve?

A trapped nerve or pinched nerve is a term used to describe nerve pain arising from the nerve root or anywhere from the nerve to the supplied region of the body. The medical term for a trapped nerve is radiculopathy or radicular pain.

The pain from a trapped nerve can be debilitating and so severe that people cannot function in their day-to-day life. Every decision is met with anxiety due to the pain and some individuals may even develop suicidal tendencies.

Treatments include surgery, medication, traction, exercises, and non-invasive manual therapy, depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Disc bulge on spine model

Causes of trapped nerves

Disc Bulges, Disc Prolapses, and "slipped discs"

A common cause of nerve pain is irritation of the nerve root or at the origin of the nerve. A "slipped disc" (which is an outdated term now, discs don't slip!) or better termed "disc herniation", can cause the inside of the disc to protrude outwards and cause irritation to the nearby nerves. This commonly affects the neck and the lower back causing arm and leg pain.

In the lower back, this tends to lead to sciatica, which you can read more about here.

Chemical or Mechanical Irritation

Nerves can be irritated by either mechanical means, e.g by compressing the nerve like with a disc herniation, or by chemical means, e.g by inflammatory cells that gather around the site of injury.

Peripheral Entrapment of the Nerve

Peripheral entrapment of nerves is the compression of the nerve away from the spine. A common peripheral entrapment of nerves is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is where the median nerve is compressed in the wrist end of the forearm which can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness into the hand.

Physical therapist assessing lower back of patient

How are Trapped Nerves treated?


In very severe cases of nerve pain, surgery may be recommended to attempt to take the pressure off the nerve. This usually involves removing bony parts of the spine or troublesome discs in the spine.


Steroid injections or local anaesthetic "nerve block" injections may be advised if the pain is not responding to non-invasive management such as exercise or lifestyle advice.


Nerve pain medication is another option to help individuals manage pain.  Common medications include Pregabalin or Amitriptyline.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment after medication. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain levels, restore the function of the affected limb and improve the resilience of the surrounding muscles. 

When looking at pinched nerves in the neck or lower back, osteopaths can perform techniques that can help to reduce symptoms by the use of traction techniques or mobilisations to the affected area. 

Jonathan Gaffney Osteopath treating a patient

Our Approach to Trapped Nerve Treatment

At JG Osteopaths we provide specialist physical therapy for trapped nerves at our Brighton clinic.

Osteopathy is a non-invasive physical therapy that can help manage nerve pain,  take the pressure off the affected nerve, and help to restore the natural function of the nerves. We are Allied Health Professionals and are registered with the GOsC. You can learn more on our about osteopathy page.

Expert Advice

As well as providing specialist treatment to help with your nerve pain, we can also give you advice on living with your condition and expert advice on things like choosing the best mattress or chair, and on working or sleeping with nerve pain. We are Primary Healthcare Practitioners, which is the same as G.Ps, dentists, and nurses meaning we can assess you and refer you to the correct type of treatment if osteopathy is not suitable for your needs.

Booking Your First Appointment

At your first appointment we will will carry out a comprehensive assessment of your condition. We will explain our diagnosis and treatment plan and how many sessions we think you will need before proceeding to treatment. We pride ourselves in treating the person behind the problem, and aim to make sure you feel involved and listened-to at every stage of the treatment process.

Book an Appointment

Booking and appointment is quick and easy using our online system. Use the button below to go to our booking page where you can select the time that suits you and book online. 

If you have any questions or want to speak to us before booking, don't hesitate to call us on 07812528049 or email

Five family members spending time together

Useful Links

The Brain and Spine Foundation offer useful information on living with nerve pain

Cochrane is a research library that summarises evidence in lots of medical conditions including nerve pain 

Pain Concern is a charity that provides support and information on nerve pain

You can also find further information on nerve pain from Spine HealthOrthInfoWebMD, and the NHS.

Jonathan Gaffney, Osteopath

About The Author

The information on this page was written by Jonathan Gaffney, a qualified Osteopath registered with the General Osteopathic Council.

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