What To Do About a Pinched Nerve

Published on August 1, 2019 by The Spine Center

pinched nerve, called radiculopathy, results when surrounding tissue such as bones, muscles, cartilage, or tendons, apply too much pressure to one area of the nerve. This unnatural pressure interferes with your nerve’s normal function. Your body reacts with pain, numbness, and other types of discomfort to alert you that something is wrong.

Relief from pinched nerve pain involves identifying the source of the compressed nerve. The physicians at The Spine Center of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Walker, and Prairieville, Louisiana, provide expert diagnosis and treatment for pinched nerve pain. With extensive experience in treating pinched nerves in the spine, neck, and wrist, the staff can help you get relief and avoid a recurrence of debilitating symptoms.

Recognize symptoms

The symptoms of a pinched nerve vary depending on the location of the nerve compression. A pinched nerve in your lower back may result in the following symptoms:

  • A sharp, shooting pain in your spine that travels along the back of your leg down to your foot
  • Numbness or “pins and needles” in one or more areas of your foot or leg
  • The feeling that your foot or leg “fell asleep”
  • Leg weakness that interferes with stability and walking
  • A burning sensation that radiates outward from the injured area

When the pinched nerve occurs in your neck, you may have these symptoms:

  • Pain in your shoulder
  • Sharp pain in one or both arms
  • Numbness or “pins and needles” in your arm
  • Arm weakness that makes your limb unusable
  • Pain that intensifies when you turn your head or move your neck

A pinched nerve in your wrist may result from carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs when the median nerve in your wrist becomes compressed. This nerve controls movement and sensation of your thumb and first three fingers. As a result, you may experience these types of symptoms:

  • Numbness or “pins and needles” in your fingers or hands
  • Increasing difficulty in grasping objects or making a fist
  • Inability to control your fingers to button your shirt 
  • Difficulty identifying the difference between hot and cold
  • Feeling that your hand is swelling even when it’s not 

Get medical attention 

It’s important to seek medical attention when you recognize the possibility that you may have a pinched nerve. Early treatment can prevent irreversible nerve damage and long-term pain. A thorough medical examination includes testing your range of motion, reflexes, and ability to do specific movements. Imaging tests such as CT scan, X-ray, or MRI can help in pinpointing the location and cause of your pain.

The most common treatment for a pinched nerve involves rest. Depending on the location and intensity of pain, you may also benefit from treatments like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral corticosteroids to reduce swelling and pain, or physical therapy, exercises, and stretches. 

When intense pain persists, you may require surgery to remove scar tissue, bone spurs, or disc material that surround your pinched nerve. These procedures can provide relief by clearing out the area of compression.  

Avoid recurrence

If you experience the pain and inconvenience of a pinched nerve, you’ll be motivated to avoid recurrence. You can help prevent a pinched nerve with the following precautions:

  • Sit in a healthy position with your feet flat on the floor
  • Avoid crossing your legs or laying in the same position for an extended period
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Take frequent breaks when doing repetitive activities
  • Participate in a regular exercise routine that includes strength and flexibility workouts

If you’re experiencing the pain and discomfort of a pinched nerve, don’t ignore the symptoms. Schedule an appointment or call our office to find out how you can achieve relief and restore mobility. 

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