A pinched nerve causes numbness, pain, tingling and weakness that can occur throughout the body. A pinched, or compressed, nerve occurs when pressure is put on a nerve by another part of the body, like bone, muscle or connective tissue. This is especially common in the spine because there are so many moving parts around tightly packed nerves. A pinched nerve leads to numbness because compression blocks the transmission of sensory and motor information between the brain and the rest of the body.
The location of symptoms typically depends on the region of the spine where compression occurs. If the pinched nerve is in the cervical (upper) spine, numbness, tingling and shooting pain can be experienced in the shoulders and all the way down to the hands. Likewise, a pinched nerve in the lumbar (lower) spine can cause symptoms to be felt in the legs and as far down as the feet. If your life is being affected by nerve numbness and other symptoms to the point it is making you miss time with loved ones or unable to relax after a long day, learning more about the causes and treatment options can be an important step to return to an active lifestyle.
Diagnosing the cause of nerve numbness
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you are experiencing any common pinched nerve symptoms that do not subside within a few days to a week. To determine the cause and location of numbness and other issues, your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical examination and possibly order diagnostic tests like a nerve conduction study or an MRI.
Treatment usually begins conservatively and many patients find relief by resting and applying hot and cold compresses to the site of the pinched nerve. Other conservative pinched nerve treatment options include:
- Gentle stretching and exercise
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
If surgery becomes an option
While conservative therapies can be successful in relieving pinched nerve symptoms, surgery may become an option if weeks or months of treatment do not bring relief. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Our board-certified surgeons+ use state-of-the-art technology that allows access to the spine with a less than 1-inch incision. This drastically reduces the risk of tissue damage and scarring that comes with traditional open back surgery.
You don’t have to live with the symptoms of a pinched nerve, like numbness, pain and other conditions that prevent you from doing the things you love to do. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.