What does it mean to have a pinched nerve in the back?

If you’ve been told you might have a pinched nerve in your back, you may be wondering what this means. In many cases, back pain is caused by a strained muscle or sprained ligament that can be caused by improperly lifting a heavy item or sleeping in an awkward position. While this kind of back pain often goes away in a short period of time, pain that lasts for weeks or longer is more likely to be related to a pinched, or compressed, nerve in the spinal column. Especially if it is accompanied by symptoms like tingling or numbness in the extremities.

A pinched nerve in the back can be a chronic condition with a serious impact on your life, making it hard to do everything from work in the yard to prepare a meal. Learning more about the meaning of this condition can help in both the prevention and treatment of spine problems and help you to enjoy a better quality of life.

Pinched nerves and degenerative spine conditions

The spine is put under a high degree of stress on a daily basis and aging can cause the individual parts of the spine to wear out, making them less able to withstand the pressures of weight and movement. Over time this can lead to a number of conditions that can cause spinal anatomy to become inflamed or displaced, leading to compression of the already tightly packed spinal nerves. Specific conditions that can cause a pinched nerve in the back include:

• Herniated discs
• Bulging discs
• Spondylolisthesis
• Facet disease
• Osteoarthritis of the spine
• Bone spurs

All of these spinal conditions can cause symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness, which may be experienced both locally in the neck or back as well as the upper or lower extremities.

Treating a pinched nerve in the back

Pinched nerve symptoms are often relieved through conservative, nonsurgical means. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, cold compresses, heating pads and corticosteroid spinal injections are all common treatments for a pinched nerve in the back. It is important to work closely with your primary care doctor or other specialist to ensure an accurate diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan that is best for your needs.

Laser Spine Institute

If several weeks or months of conservative treatment have failed to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with a pinched nerve, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery^ and has helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain since 2005.

Contact us to learn more and to receive your no-cost MRI review* to find out if you may be a candidate for an outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute.

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