What should I do if I think I have a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is something that nearly everyone experiences at some point in his or her life. This painful condition can lead to significant neck or back pain, and is usually caused by a minor injury developed during daily activity.

In most cases, a pinched nerve, although painful, doesn’t require medical attention. Unless your pain is severe or debilitating, treatment can normally be accomplished at home and usually goes away within a few days. However, if your pain continues for several days, or seems to be worsening, it is important that you seek medical attention to determine what has caused your pinched nerve and if additional treatment is necessary.

Causes of a pinched nerve

A pinched nerve can seem to come out of nowhere — something as simple as lifting the groceries or overdoing your workout might lead to a little “tweak” in your muscles that can cause a pinched nerve.

While this is obviously something you want to avoid, a pinched nerve from a minor injury usually isn’t something to worry about. If you experience moderate pain or slight discomfort from your injury, a combination of over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories, heat packs, and rest is usually all that is needed to overcome your symptoms.

In the event that your pain doesn’t seem to subside, it’s a good idea to visit your physician. In addition to injury, there are a number of degenerative spine conditions that may be causing your nerve compression, including:

These spine conditions can cause a pinched nerve when the damaged part of the spine (usually a disc or joint) causes the spine to move out of alignment and compress a nearby nerve root. For many of these conditions, the symptoms of a pinched nerve begin gradually and worsen over time. If you notice your symptoms worsening after several days, your physician can help you find alternative treatment methods to help reduce your pain.

Treatment options

If you are diagnosed with a pinched nerve due to injury or a spine condition, there are a number of nonsurgical treatments that may be able to provide pain relief. Many times, a physician will start treating a pinched nerve with a series of conservative treatments, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Epidural injections
  • Yoga and stretching

If your pain continues or does not reduce after several months of treatment, your physician may suggest spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in a minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery^. Because our procedures are performed through a small, less than 1-inch incision and do not require the cutting or tearing of muscles, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication, excessive blood loss and infection. Our patients are also able to return home or to their hotel room within hours after their procedure.

Depending on the cause of your pinched nerve, we offer both minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures. Both types of procedures focus on relieving pressure on the impacted nerve root in order to reduce your pain and symptoms. Many patients are able to find relief through our decompression surgery, however patients with more serious spine damage may require a minimally invasive stabilization surgery.

To see if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan. Let us help you take back your life from chronic neck or back pain.

Browse Related Resources