A pinched nerve occurs when a bone, muscle, or tendon exerts pressure on one of the fibers that conducts messages from your brain and spinal cord throughout your body. This results in a number of symptoms, including pain, which can be alleviated with medication.
Medications used to treat a pinched nerve include oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications and, for more severe cases, corticosteroid injections.
NSAIDs work by interfering with the production of prostaglandins, chemicals in your body that contribute to inflammation and cause pain, explains the University of Virginia. Corticosteroid medications suppress the actions of your immune system, which also alleviates inflammation and pain.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are often effective for alleviating the pain of a pinched nerve. If your pain is moderate to severe, your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength NSAID like diclofenac or meloxicam.
NSAIDs taken for the pain of a pinched nerve are typically used every few hours as long as the pain persists. Corticosteroid injections are usually administered only once for the treatment of a pinched nerve.
Risks associated with NSAIDs include gastrointestinal ulceration or bleeding and heart attacks or disease, warnsthe American College of Gastroenterology and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In some patients, corticosteroid injections cause tendons or other tissues surrounding the injection site to break down or even rupture, cautions the University of North Carolina.