A pinched nerve occurs when an injury puts pressure on the spinal nerves. When this happens, it can cause pain to travel down the back and into another part of the body served by the nerve root where it’s pinched. This may be minor or excruciating, depending on how severe the pinching is. Pinched nerve symptoms may include pain, numbness, and tingling. William L Yancey MD, a specialist in diagnosing and treating a pinched nerve, can give you a neurological examination to check for common causes of pinched nerves. In severe cases, you may if the problem affects the function of an organ or system in your body.
Causes of a Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve usually results from some form of trauma to the spine, such as from a fall or vehicle accident. Many people with pinched nerves complain that they “slept wrong” or lifted something too heavy and suddenly felt pain in their back or neck. The treatment for a pinched nerve depends on how pinched the nerve is.
Your doctor may recommend a nerve conduction study to measure how fast your nerve signals travel and assess the condition of the spinal nerves. This test is also used to determine which pinched nerve might serve the body area. You can also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a CT scan to see the condition of the nerves, muscles, and bones.
Electromyography can also help diagnose a pinched nerve. The test records the electrical activity of muscles and can determine if there’s a problem with the nerves that serve them.
Treatment of a Pinched Nerve
Physical therapy is the treatment of choice for a pinched nerve. Many physicians recommend trying conservative therapies, such as physical therapy, before considering other treatment types that may have more side effects and be more costly. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs may also provide relief from pain, but they do not treat the underlying cause of the problem. Surgery, when used to treat a pinched nerve, is usually only considered in the most severe cases. This procedure involves removing pressure from the nerve root so it can heal by itself.
There are no guarantees that surgery will solve the problem. Nerve surgery is not recommended for people who have had multiple surgeries due to having complex or advanced degenerative disc disease. Some physicians may recommend surgery if the nerve is “pinched” by a herniated spinal disc, bone spur, or tumor.
The primary goal of microsurgical decompression of nerve roots is to relieve pressure on a nerve root. It can be caused by different conditions, including injuries to the neck resulting in chronic neck pain, the lower back injury resulting in chronic low back pain, injuries to the arm or leg resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome, or some other nerve entrapment conditions.
In summary, a pinched nerve is a condition where an injury puts pressure on the spinal nerves causing pain. The leading cause of a pinched nerve is trauma to the spine. You can diagnose the condition through MRI scans, electromyography, and nerve conduction studies. Treatment options include physical therapy, non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, and surgery.