What should I do if I think I have a pinched nerve in the spine?

A pinched nerve is something that nearly everyone experiences at some point in life. While this painful condition can lead to chronic neck or back pain, in many cases it is a more minor issue that can improve in a short period of time. However, if your pain continues for several days, or seems to be worsening, it is important that you seek medical attention to determine if the cause of your symptoms is a pinched nerve or another issue.

The following information can help you better understand this condition, including how a pinched nerve develops in the spine, so you can work more closely with your doctor to diagnose and treat the source of your neck or back pain.

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 strain or sprain 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 mild pain from your injury, you should still consult with your doctor, but often a combination of at-home remedies such as 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 neck pain, back pain or other symptoms don’t seem to subside after a few days to a week, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor for a more thorough evaluation. 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 displaced anatomy, like a bone spur or herniated disc, narrows the already tight nerve pathways in the spinal column. 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 develop a treatment plan designed to 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 does not improve after several months of treatment, your physician may suggest spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute and our team of board-certified surgeons provides minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that offers our patients a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

To see if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*

Browse Related Resources