What is a Pinched Nerve?
- Occurs when there is pressure on a nerve
- Pressure can be caused by being pressed between bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons
- Can occur in several sites throughout the body
Your body contains a network of nerves. They extend from your brain to your arms and legs, sending messages to muscles and skin. Peripheral nerves attach from your spine to your extremities. Pinched nerves occur as an outcome of frequent movements of the same nature, and can cause neck pain and low back pain. When they are pressed (pinched) they may cause pain that spreads from the origin into the shoulder and arm (cervical radiculopathy). The pain may also spread to the leg and foot (sciatic nerve pain).
Our Treatment Approach
Our back, neck and spine specialists are experts in treating pinched nerves. Our initial approach is to use conservative care such as ice packs and moist heat, massage, a prolonged hot shower or placing a rolled up towel under your neck when you lie down. Your physician may also recommend physical therapy, which may include stretches and light exercise designed to improve your flexibility and range of motion. Over-the-counter pain relievers, or prescribed pain relievers, muscle relaxers or injections to block the pain and reduce the inflammation around the pinched nerve may also be a part of your customized conservative treatment approach. On rare occasions, surgery may be required for more severe symptoms that don’t respond to our conservative treatments. Because our focus is on minimally invasive approaches, recovery times are generally quicker and patients often experience pain relief in less time than traditional open back surgery, and only leaving a tiny scar.
A pinched nerve can be caused by:
- Herniated disk
- Bone spurs
- Spinal arthritis
- Other injury or disease that would cause pressure on a nerve by surrounding tissue
A pinched nerve in the low back generally results in radiating pain in the area of the pressed nerve, which can include the neck or low back. A shooting pain down the arm or leg may also be experienced, often accompanied by muscle spasms, will create significant neck or back pain. Pinched nerves can also create numbness and weakness in the arm or leg without causing pain. Other symptoms include tingling, burning or “pins and needles”, a feeling of and a hot/cold sensation.