How do I know if I have a pinched nerve in my back?

Some aches and pains are, unfortunately, an unavoidable part of the natural aging process. Sore muscles, torn tendons and inflamed joints all become more common as we grow older. Even young adults can overdo it on occasion and push their bodies too hard, resulting in sprains, tears and breaks. But there are occasions when pain is the result of something other than muscular strain or a sudden traumatic injury. A pinched nerve in the back is a common condition that afflicts millions of people. Nerves exiting the spinal column can become pinched or compressed for a number of reasons, but the most common are bone spurs, osteoarthritis, bulging or herniated discs and misaligned vertebrae. Since these disorders usually develop slowly, nerve compression tends to worsen in stages, with discomfort intensifying from mild and intermittent to persistent and extreme if left untreated.

If you have been experiencing discomfort and think it may be due to a pinched nerve in your back, there are certain indicators you should look for, including:

  • Sharp stabbing pains in your back that are aggravated by coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Pain that is triggered by certain motions such as twisting from your hips, bending or lifting your leg while lying on your back
  • A decreased ability to lift the front of your foot off the ground
  • Tingling in the buttocks, legs or feet
  • Aching or burning sensations that radiate from the back and into one of your legs

The only way to know for sure if you have a pinched nerve in your back is to consult your doctor. If testing indicates you are experiencing nerve compression, you will likely be referred to a specialist for treatment. Conservative approaches such as massage therapy, stretching, exercise regimens and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are appropriate first choices for managing your pain. These should be followed for several months to evaluate their effectiveness before moving on to alternative treatments.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a number of minimally invasive surgeries that can help patients find lasting relief from chronic pain caused by a pinched nerve. Contact a member of our team today to learn more about our outpatient procedures. And during your conversation, be sure to ask how you can obtain a free MRI review* as the first step in determining if you might be a candidate for surgery at Laser Spine Institute.

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