Causes and treatment for a pinched nerve

A pinched nerve in the neck or back can lead to pain in a wide variety of locations throughout the body. Identifying the causes of the pinched nerve and establishing a treatment plan are important steps in finding relief from this condition, which affects millions of people. More accurately referred to as nerve compression, a pinched nerve in the spine occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, which can include bone, cartilage or a herniated disc. This pressure can result in localized pain in the area of the pinched nerve, or pain, numbness, muscle weakness or tingling that radiates to the shoulders, arms, hips or legs. Learn more about the causes and treatment options for a pinched nerve in the following article.

Causes of a pinched nerve

Once your doctor has identified the causes of your pinched nerve, it can be easier to determine the treatment plan that will provide relief for your symptoms. While congenital defects, tumors and other growths can lead to a nerve compression, the most common causes are degenerative spinal conditions that are often a product of the natural aging process. These include:

  • Bulging discs. When the walls of a disc weaken and the disc becomes misshapen, it can often intrude into the spinal canal and put pressure on the spinal cord or a nearby spinal nerve root.
  • Herniated discs. If the outside layer of a bulging spinal disc ruptures, the inside layer can escape into the spinal canal and cause a pinched nerve.
  • Facet syndrome. When the cartilage between the facet joints in the spine wears down, the joint surfaces can rub together and cause the growth of bone spurs, which can put pressure on a nerve root.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This vertebral misalignment can cause a vertebra to come into contact with a spinal nerve.

In addition, there are several risk factors that can increase the chances of developing a pinched nerve at a younger age, including excess weight, lack of exercise, tobacco use and participation in high-impact sports.

Pinched nerve treatment options

Choosing the correct treatment options for your pinched nerve is dependent upon the specific causes of your condition. Some of the more common conservative treatments for the conditions listed above include physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, muscle spasm medication, acupuncture and chiropractic care. Another option is to use a combination of healthy eating, physical activity and weight management to strengthen the muscles that support the spine and reduce the pressure on the affected area.

If these conservative treatments are unable to alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeing if you are a candidate for surgery, such as the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. Since 2005, our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back conditions, such as a pinched nerve.

Our procedures are completed using a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate symptoms while resulting in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^ Therefore, many of the patients that undergo minimally invasive spine surgery are able to be up and walking within a few hours after their procedure,^ allowing them to get back to the activities they have been missing out on.

At Laser Spine Institute, our state-of-the-art facilities are built around patient-centered care in order to help guide patients through their journey to wellness. Contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a no-cost MRI review* to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your pinched nerve symptoms.

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