Pinched Nerve

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Sharp pain can stop us in our tracks. Sometimes this pain can develop because of nerve compression or having a pinched nerve.

If you are experiencing pain, visit our experts at JIS Orthopedics to see if a pinched nerve is the source. We have offices conveniently located in New Albany and St. Clairsville, Ohio where we can help provide pain relief. Schedule an appointment with us today!

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure (compression) is applied to a nerve by surrounding bones, discs, or ligaments. Pinched nerves are also referred to as radiculopathy.

Since pinched nerves can occur throughout many areas in your body, they can also be categorized by the location of symptoms experienced:

Cervical radiculopathy — This term is used when the pinched nerve is located in your neck or cervical spine. This compression of your nerve roots causes pain, numbness, or weakness in your arm.

Lumbar radiculopathy — This is the term used when the pinched nerve originates in your lower back—your lumbar spine. It can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in your leg.

Different Conditions That Can Cause Pinched Nerves to Develop

There are multiple conditions that can cause tissue or bone to compress a nerve, resulting in painful symptoms. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • The natural aging process leads to “wear and tear” on your spine and spinal discs.
  • Sudden injury while participating in sports or from an accident.
  • Having a herniated disc (when your disc bulges out toward your spinal canal, possibly as a result of awkward lifting or twisting).
  • The stress of repetitive motions.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your median nerve is compressed.
  • Obesity or having excess weight can cause your nerve pathway to swell, putting pressure on nerves.
  • Pregnancy-related weight changes.
  • Diabetes and high blood glucose (sugar) levels damage your nerves.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The symptoms of having a pinched nerve are often very distinct and can include:

  • Sharp pain or a dull ache
  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness or a decreased sensation in the area of compression
  • Tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • A sensation that resembles the feeling that you experience when your hand or foot has fallen asleep

How is a Pinched Nerve Diagnosed?

Diagnosing nerve compression syndromes involves your doctor performing an in-depth examination to find the source of the pinched nerve.

During this examination, they will look for:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Test for a change in your reflexes

They will also ask about the different sensations you have been feeling. If necessary, they may order the following imaging tests:

  • X-ray 
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI can show if any damage has occurred to soft tissues that are now causing your nerves to be compressed or any damage to the spinal cord.
  • Electromyography (EMG): The electrical impulses of muscles measured by an EMG, coupled with nerve conduction studies, can help your doctor determine if a nerve is working normally.

These tests help your doctor to identify if your symptoms are caused by pressure on your spinal nerve roots or if the nerve damage has been caused by another medical condition.

How is a Pinched Nerve Treated?

Generally, simple, non-surgical treatment is first used to treat a pinched nerve. These non-surgical treatments include:

  • Time and rest
  • Applying ice and heat therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Splints for your hand or wrist
  • Cervical collars for your neck 
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy — During your physical therapy sessions, your physical therapist will use stretches and light exercises to help ease pressure on your nerves and relieve pain. These specific physical therapy exercises will be tailored to the specific type of compression that you have to relieve pressure on the nerve.

When is Surgical Intervention Needed?

Surgical treatment for pinched nerves is the last resort when it comes to treating a pinched nerve and is only used when conservative treatment has not relieved the pressure on the nerves.

The type of surgery you undergo will be determined by the cause and location of the nerve.

How Can I Prevent Pinched Nerves From Developing?

While pinched nerves originate from various conditions and not all can be prevented, the following steps can be taken to lower your risk:

  • Maintain good posture. Poor posture can contribute to the development of this painful condition.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Incorporate various stretching exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility.
  • Avoid sitting or lying in one position or crossing your legs for long periods.
  • If possible, limit and take breaks from activities requiring repetitive motions.

How Can I Manage Life with a Pinched Nerve?

Many have successfully managed the symptoms associated with having a pinched nerve, and you can be too!

Medicines like NSAIDs can be used to ease your pain and reduce inflammation. Complying with the guidelines your therapist provides will also be beneficial in managing your pain.

If necessary, losing weight may also help you reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Nerve root compression is not an incurable condition! If you have severe pain from your nerves being compressed, schedule an appointment with our experts at JIS Orthopedics, conveniently located in New Albany & St. Clairsville, OH. Our specialists are ready to help give you the pain relief you’re looking for.

Medically reviewed by Derek Snook, MD


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Even if you follow steps to help protect your spine, injuries can still happen. When they do, schedule an appointment with Dr. Derek Snook at JIS Orthopedics! Scheduling an appointment earlier can help shorten your recovery and get you back to the thins you love.  We want to help you live without limits!


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