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What is a Pinched Nerve?


The spine is made up of vertebrae, discs, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. The discs, which contain a gel-like center (nucleus), sit between each vertebra to absorb the shock of our movements. When pressure on the discs causes the outer portion of the disc to thin and tear and the nucleus to push outward, it can “pinch” a spinal nerve. Pinched nerve symptoms can include pain and numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, depending on the location of the pinched nerve. A pinched nerve can happen anywhere along the spine.

If a pinched nerve is causing you pain that interferes with your ability to do the things you love, then Back Centers of America can help. Call [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to speak with us out about our innovative and proven pinched nerve treatment options and to get matched with one of our board-certified spine specialists who can provide the personalized care you really need.

What causes pinched nerve symptoms?

Pinched Nerve Causes and Risk Factors

A pinched nerve is caused by excessive pressure on a nerve root. Some causes may be due to a slipped disc, bone spurs, or tendons. There are several things that can increase the risk of a pinched nerve, including:

  • Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Repetitive movements
  • Being overweight
  • Participating in certain sports
  • Heavy or improper lifting
  • Aging
  • Abnormal spine structure

Though you can’t stop aging or regular wear and tear on the spine from happening, pinched nerve prevention is possible if you take measures to protect the spine, such as practicing proper lifting and good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight—all of which result in less stress on the spine.

In most cases, pinched nerve symptoms caused by a minor injury, like lifting something heavy or sleeping with your neck in an awkward position, will resolve quickly. If the pain is severe or lasts, it could indicate a more serious spine condition that could lead to permanent nerve damage and chronic pain if not treated.

Pinched Nerve Symptoms

The symptoms of a pinched nerve vary depending on the location of the affected nerve. You’ll usually feel pain in the areas that the nerve supplies sensation to. For example, pinched nerve symptoms from the neck will be felt in the shoulders, arm and hand, while a pinched nerve in the lower back causes pain and other associated pinched nerve symptoms to radiate down the leg.

The symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Pain that radiates outward
  • Tingling or “pins and needles” sensation
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

Pinched nerve symptoms often seem worse at night. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which results from pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, is especially painful at night, often waking a person from sleep.

Degenerative disc disease is an often misunderstood condition. BPC breaks down what you need to know.

Pinched Nerve Treatment Options

Pinched nerve treatment begins with rest and avoiding activities that put pressure on the compressed nerve. Along with rest, treatment for pinched nerve may also include a combination of the following:

  • Pain medication – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics can relieve mild to moderate pain and inflammation. If over-the-counter (OTC) medications don’t provide sufficient relief, your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication.
  • Heat and cold – Applying heat and cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Alternating between both has been found to be most beneficial.
  • Muscle relaxants – Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant medication to help with muscle spasms.
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can teach you exercise to strengthen the muscles around the spine and stretches to help relieve pressure on the spine and increase flexibility. They can also advise you on proper lifting and posture techniques for pinched nerve prevention.
  • Corticosteroid injections – Steroid medication, sometimes in combination with a numbing agent, can be injected into the affected area to temporarily relieve inflammation and pain.

Rest along with a combination of these nonsurgical pinched nerve treatment options can be very effective in relieving pinched nerve symptoms caused by a minor injury. In some cases, however, surgery may be recommended, such as when:

  • Pinched nerve symptoms aren’t relieved with conservative treatment
  • Weakness is affecting your ability to stand, walk or perform other functions
  • Your pain is severe or worsening
  • Your pinched nerve is the result of a spinal condition that will only improve with surgery

If any of these apply to you and you’re not experiencing the relief you need, call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”]. Back Pain Centers of America has helped more than 30,000 people just like you find relief from pinched nerve pain and other spinal conditions. Our minimally-invasive procedures offer quick relief of symptoms without the long recovery period or risks of traditional open surgery. Give us a call to learn more. This call is simple, and it won’t cost you anything. Don’t delay. It could be the most important call you ever make.

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