Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the spine

A pinched nerve in the spine can lead to a number of symptoms, depending on the location of the nerve compression. A pinched nerve can result in local pain and symptoms that travel along the path of the affected nerve. This can lead to the sensation of symptoms being felt far away from the compression. Treatment of a pinched nerve in the spine is dependent on first identifying the location of the compression and then determining the cause of the nerve irritation.

Anatomy and specific pinched nerve symptoms

The brain transmits and receives signals by way of the spinal cord and a complex infrastructure of nerves throughout the body. When the regular function of a nerve is interfered with, the body may respond with a number of symptoms, such as:

  • Local pain. The most common symptom of a pinched nerve in the spine, local chronic pain may be felt at the site of compression. This is particularly common in the lumbar spine in the lower back and cervical spine in the neck.
  • Muscle weakness. Sometimes a compressed nerve can lead to muscle weakness because the fatigued muscle is connected to the pinched nerve. By interfering with the signal between the brain and the muscle, regular function is interrupted.
  • Numbness and tingling. Numbness and tingling is often associated with permanent nerve damage, although, if it is caught in the early stages, surgical treatment may be able to provide relief. Numbness and tingling is most often felt in the fingers or toes.
  • Traveling pain. Also known as radiating pain, pain that travels along the pinched nerve is common; especially in the lower body. Traveling pain can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms occur far from the nerve compression.

Treatment for spinal nerve compression

Treatment of a pinched nerve in the spine is usually first attempted conservatively. The goal of nonsurgical treatment is to both manage pain and decompress the nerve in the long term. This may be accomplished with a combination of medications, heat/cold therapies, low-impact exercises and other similar treatments. If these treatments do not offer sufficient pain relief, spine surgery can become a serious consideration.

If you are in this situation, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ When you speak with a member of our caring team you can request a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate.

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