Pinched nerve: how to improve when you are stressed and cant exercise?
March 28, 2013 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I have had what a doctor said is probably a pinched nerve for the last 2-ish months. It started with a tingling in the left shoulder and now runs all the way down to the fingertips. How to heal when you are stressed, it seems to get worse from stress and you cant do anything you love?

It has started on my right side as well. It used to be only while i was doing certain things, but is now almost always present. it is best when i wake up, and worst when i sleep. I think this may have something to do with my increased stress from not being able to do the things i love.

I have not been able to do anything I love to decrease stress like piano, jogging, games, tennis, writing, etc. as they seem to make the problem worse. Doing nothing, however, leaves me very anxious and stressed and i get bad sleep, with my jaw always aching when i wake up. I have tmj.

i went to a physical therapist and chiropractor - pretty sure the chiro made it worse. I am stretching religiously with stretches i learned from the physical therapist. i have worked on my posture as well, all to no avail. I got on health insurance and will be getting an MRI for the problem in about a week. In the meantime i would like some advice on how to cope, and possibly improve the problem, while waiting. Sleeping, and sometimes stretching, seems to be the only thing that :kind: of helps. Hoping to hear something!
posted by Thanquol180 to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Meditation? If you can stretch, could you do some kind of yoga or tai chi that's light and not as intense?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:36 PM on March 28, 2013

If there's muscle tension pinching the nerve, what's worked for me is taking a prescription muscle relaxant. Once it's relaxed, it's easier to keep it relaxed.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:49 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you can try getting a gentle massage, both for relaxation and stretching your shoulder and arm. My massage therapist really helped me when I had a pinched ulnar nerve. Look for a place that offers sports massage or shiatsu.
posted by topophilia at 10:10 PM on March 28, 2013

If you're having any frustrations about loss of fitness/weight gain, try channeling that into analysing and cleaning up your diet. I don't mean go and obsess over some random fad like fruitarianism or juicing and it'll cure you; just start tracking your daily kcals and macronutrient ratios. Your body may not let you exercise, but you're still in control of the 90% of your wellbeing that is determined by what you eat.

One positive aspect of being injured is that it removes the possibility of deluding yourself that you can compensate for chronically poor eating habits through occasional exercise/daily activity - a delusion which almost everyone suffers from. When I was badly injured, I found getting disciplined about my diet really helped preserve my sense that I was still in control of my body, still engaged in a physically beneficial pursuit, rather than condemned to X sedentary months of pain, fat accumulation and depression.

Above all, try not to let your injury habituate you, during your day to day life, to worse posture and movement habits. Chronic pain can often turn into a weirdly recursive chicken-&-egg situation in which the compensatory movement patterns it forces you to adopt cause it to continue, or worsen, or cause an entirely new injury to arise. So just as you can preserve a healthy sense of agency through dietary discipline, you can work on postural discipline as well. Neither is guaranteed to fix the problem you're facing, but it should help to know you're doing everything in your power to stop things getting any worse.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 10:43 PM on March 28, 2013

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