Pinched nerve diagnostic process

A pinched nerve diagnosis is often made in conjunction with a degenerative spine disease diagnosis. Degenerative spine conditions occur due to age and general wear of the spine. These conditions usually refer to the spine losing stability. Components of the spine, either a disc or vertebra, will also move out of alignment and pinch a nerve in the spinal canal. Therefore, a pinched nerve is often associated with a degenerative spine condition, such as a herniated disc, bulging disc, spondylolisthesis, spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

Typically, a pinched nerve will present itself through chronic pain at the location of the nerve (usually the neck or lower back) and radiating pain into the extremities. For example, if the pinched nerve is in the lower back, a patient may feel pain in the lower back, as well as pain radiating down the buttock and hip area and into the leg and foot. If you are experiencing this type of pain, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause. There may be some tests required to accurately diagnose the source of your pinched nerve. To learn more about the pinched nerve diagnostic process, read on.

Questions and answers to determine a pinched nerve diagnosis

A pinched nerve diagnosis often begins with a discussion between you and your doctor about your symptoms and medical history. You can expect questions such as:

  • Can you describe your symptoms as specifically as possible?
  • How long have you experienced these symptoms?
  • Are there any activities that increase your level of discomfort?
  • Are there any activities or techniques that relieve your pain?
  • Have any members of your family been diagnosed with a spinal condition?
  • Have you recently experienced any trauma to the neck or back?

Medical imaging for a pinched nerve

In most cases, a definitive pinched nerve diagnosis cannot be made without the assistance of medical imaging. Your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan to better determine the cause of your pinched nerve. This will allow him or her to analyze the anatomy of your spine and locate the disc or vertebra that is out of alignment and impacting a nerve root, which is often the cause of chronic pain in the neck or back. Once your doctor determines the cause of your pain and diagnoses your pinched nerve, you can collaborate to form a treatment plan to help reduce your pain and discomfort.

Pinched nerve surgery at Laser Spine Institute

While many mild spine conditions can be effectively treated through conservative methods such as physical therapy, chiropractic care or pain medication, some severe conditions require surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^ Our minimally invasive procedures allow our patients to experience a lower risk of complication and shorter recovery time^ than patients who undergo traditional open neck and back surgery.

Our minimally invasive surgery begins with a surgeon making a small incision in the neck or back to access the spine. Unlike traditional open neck or back surgery that cuts through the muscles surrounding the spine, our minimally invasive surgery leaves the surrounding muscle and soft tissue undisturbed during the procedure. Once the spine is accessed, a portion of the diseased disc or vertebra is removed to free the pinched nerve. This is called a minimally invasive decompression surgery.

If the disc or vertebra is severely diseased, one of our board-certified+ surgeons might have to remove the entire component to free the pinched nerve. In this case, an implant would be inserted into the now-empty space to stabilize the spine, which is known as a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. The type of surgery you undergo would be determined during your physical evaluation and MRI review with our medical staff. Contact us for more information about our pinched nerve procedures.

For more information about our minimally invasive surgery to help treat a pinched nerve, please reach out to our dedicated team today. Through a free MRI review* we can determine if you are a potential candidate for the outpatient procedures offered at our state-of-the-art facilities. We are here to help you learn about your treatment options so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.

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