Recognizing the stages and symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back
Lower back pain and pinched nerves
Lower back pain could indicate that you have a pinched nerve in the lumbar region of your spine. This is the most common region for back injuries and other spinal conditions to occur, so it is certainly possible that a herniated disc, bulging disc, spondylolisthesis or other degenerative spine condition is exerting pressure on a lumbar spinal nerve. Keep in mind that many cases of lower back pain actually involve a strained muscle or a sprained ligament that will heal in a few weeks with conservative treatment.
Stages and symptoms of a lumbar pinched nerve
When lower back pain is caused by a pinched nerve, varying degrees of severity can produce different symptoms:
- Nerve compression. When a nerve in the lower back first feels pressure from a bone, a spinal disc, a tightened ligament or an inflamed muscle, signs of a pinched nerve can include shooting pain — sometimes described as “burning” or “electric” — that begins in the back but travels through the buttocks and down the legs.
- Nerve damage. Constant nerve constriction can lead to loss of sensation, tingling or numbness in the affected area. You may find that mobility becomes limited and reflexes diminish if a pinched lumbar nerve goes untreated.
- Paralysis. Because central nerves in the brain and spinal cord send signals to peripheral nerves, which, in turn, stimulate the muscles, skin and organs, a nerve that is pinched or malfunctioning for a prolonged period of time could lead to muscular atrophy and dead nerve fibers. In cases where loss of bladder or bowel function occurs, it could indicate a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which is a medical emergency that typically requires immediate surgery to prevent paralysis.
A pinched spinal nerve in the lower back may require surgery, but in many cases, patients are able to find relief with other treatments. Instead, work with your physician to develop a course of conservative treatment, such as gentle stretching, low-impact exercise, physical therapy, periods of rest, pain medication and hot-cold therapy.
If these methods provide little or no relief after several months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures that could help you find relief from chronic back pain. We can perform a free MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our procedures.