Pinched Nerve Causes & Treatment

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Pinched nerves occur when tissue such as a bone or cartilage applies pressure to a nerve. This can cause pain, tingling, numbing, and other sensations or even prevent proper function in the nerve.

Pinched Nerve Diagnosis

Pinched nerve diagnosis starts with a history and physical examination by your doctor. He or she will ask about the symptoms of your pain, recent physical activity or injuries, and then use their hands to feel around the affected area to eliminate other potential sources of pain such as muscle strain. If they determine that the cause of your symptoms is likely a pinched nerve, your doctor will order an imaging test such as an MRI to get a look at tissues that may be applying pressure to your nerve. Alternatively, they might order an electrical test such as a nerve conduction study that tests for neural damage directly.

Pinched nerves often occur because of a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, facet joint disease, and other spinal abnormalities since the spine houses the spinal cord, a collection of nerves that start at the brainstem and branch throughout the body. Many of these are caused by aging, but can be triggered by repetitive motion, trauma, or other incidents that put stress on the spine.

Pinched Nerve Treatment

Many conservative options are available for pinched nerve treatment including physical therapy, massages, pain medications, and epidural spine injections. If these methods do not reduce your symptoms, your doctor may present surgical options including endoscopic spine surgery. This minimally invasive alternative to open back spine surgery will allow the doctor to move or remove the tissue applying pressure to your nerve through a small incision with minimal scarring and muscle disruption. To find out if you are a candidate, request an appointment with one of our spine experts. You can also learn more about pinched nerves or about minimally invasive spine treatments.