Causes and treatments for a pinched nerve in the back

A pinched nerve in the back can occur anywhere along the spinal column and can be caused by a variety of conditions. Some of the more common causes include bulging or herniated discs, inflamed tissues and bone spurs from arthritic areas of the spine, all of which can narrow the spinal canal and compress a nerve root or the spinal cord.

When any of these conditions put abnormal pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord, they prevent the nerve from properly transmitting electrical signals to the peripheral nerves, causing pain, tingling, numbness, weakness and burning in the area of the body that those peripheral nerves lead to. Learn more about the causes of a pinched nerve and what treatment option is right for you in the following article.

Causes of a pinched nerve in the back

If a bulging disc, for example, puts pressure on nerve roots in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, lower back pain, loss of motor control in the leg and possible numbness in the big toe may result because these are the areas to which nerves in the lumbar region transmit signals.

One particularly well-known nerve starting in the lower back is the sciatic nerve. When any part of the large sciatic nerve becomes pinched, pain travels from the lower back to the buttocks, back of the thigh and calf, and possibly to the toes. Pinching of the sciatic nerve, which can also cause weakness in the lower body, is known as sciatica.

A pinched nerve in the neck or back can be attributed to factors, including:

  • Age-related deterioration and osteoarthritis
  • Traumatic injury, such as an automobile accident
  • Excess body weight or poor posture
  • Scar tissue formation after surgery
  • Facet cysts and tumors
  • Thickened ligaments

All of these conditions can cause vertebrae, spinal discs and surrounding tissues to degenerate, shift or become misshapen.

Treating a pinched nerve in the back

If you are diagnosed with a pinched nerve in the back, initial treatment may include rest, chiropractic care, physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, mild exercise, anti-inflammatory or muscle spasm medications and acupuncture. If these treatments are not effective, your doctor may then prescribe corticosteroid injections to treat a pinched nerve in the back. In some cases, these treatments can relieve pinched nerve symptoms enough for patients to resume an active lifestyle and enjoy an acceptable quality of life.

However, if you have chronic, debilitating symptoms, your doctor may recommend traditional open back surgery. If you are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the minimally invasive spine surgery available at our state-of-the-art facilities.

Our surgeons can provide relief from pinched nerve symptoms by accessing the nerve, based on where the nerve is pinched, through muscle-sparing incisions. In turn, this results in no lengthy recovery^ and less risk of complication than traditional open spine surgery.

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you’re a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute today.

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