Recover from a pinched nerve or nerve compression and its side-effects such as numbness or tingling, neck pain, lower back, and sciatica pain with the latest non-surgical treatments, including injections, physical therapy, minimally invasive endoscopic discectomy, and lumbar fusion. Untreated, nerve compression leads to severe complications such as peripheral neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome. Visit our pain management center and meet our injury specialists to get the pain relief you need in the safe, reassuring hands of the best sports medicine physicians in New York City. Our doctors are experts in nerve impingement and can pinpoint the source of your pain and prescribe a personalized, time-tested treatment plan that works.
Nerves have the function of sending important messages throughout the body and extend from the brain down to the spinal cord. If you suffer from a pinched nerve, or other referred to as nerve compression, your body might warn you through the pain. You mustn’t ignore this important warning signal. Other referred to as nerve impingement, a pinched nerve can cause mild or more severe damage.
In some cases, the damage is only temporary, while in other cases it can lead to long-lasting issues.
Treatment for nerve impingement will vary from individual to individual and from case to case. The cause of the nerve impingement, as well as the severity of the condition, determine what type of treatment you will need and for how long. A pinched nerve in back treatment might include simply resting and avoiding doing any types of activities, which might worsen the symptoms.
One of the biggest risk factors for degenerative disc disease is age. The discs begin to shrink down as we get older and lose their cushioning property and shock-absorbing function. It is estimated that almost all adults over 60 years old suffer from some type of disc degeneration, but not all cases lead to pain.
What causes a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve is caused by pressure being put on the nerve. This type of pressure can be caused by repetitive motions or it can be caused by holding the body in one position for a long time, such as if you sleep with your elbows bent. The nerves are most vulnerable in areas of the body where they have to travel through a narrow space and where there is only little soft tissue that protects them.
In most cases, nerve impingement occurs if the nerve is pressed between tissues, such as:
- A tendon
- A ligament
- A bone
Inflammation or pressure being put on a nerve root that exits the spine can lead to neck pain or lower back pain. It can also lead to radiating pain, which is felt in the neck, into the shoulder, and down the arm.
Pain might also radiate into the leg or the foot. Such symptoms can also be caused by changes that occur in the discs or bones of the spine. For example, once a disc protrudes or slips out of place, a herniated disc occurs and pressure can get put on the spinal nerve.
Other symptoms of nerve impingement can include pain in the:
Such cases can lead to further conditions such as peripheral neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome.
When the condition is left untreated and the nerve impingement remains a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve can break down. As a result, it can lead to:
- fluid build-up
- additional pressure
- scarring – This scarring can interfere with the way the nerve functions and lead to severe complications
What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve?
In some cases, nerve impingement can lead to pain only. There are however cases where patients experience other symptoms, but no pain. Some of the most common symptoms of nerve impingement include:
- numbness or tingling
- radiating pain
- radicular pain or sciatica pain
- pins, and needles sensation or a burning sensation
- pain in the area where the compression has occurred, such as in the lower back
Some people experience weakness, especially while doing certain activities. Some symptoms might worsen when you do certain movements, such as turning your head.
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How to treat nerve impingement?
Treatment for nerve impingement will vary from individual to individual and from case to case. The cause of the nerve impingement, as well as the severity of the condition, determine what type of treatment you will need and for how long.
A pinched nerve in back treatment might include simply resting and avoiding doing any types of activities, which might worsen the symptoms. Although in many cases this is the only treatment that you will need, there are also many cases where the pain remains and you will need to speak to a doctor about your symptoms.
You might need one or several types of treatment for a pinched nerve in the back, which can help to shrink the swollen tissue around the nerve.
In most severe cases, depending on what puts pressure on the nerve, it might be necessary to remove:
- disc material
- scar tissue
- pieces of bone
Other options of treatment for nerve impingement might include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to reduce swelling and provide pain relief
- Oral corticosteroids can also help to reduce pain and swelling.
When a patient suffers from severe pain, you might get prescription narcotics, which can help with severe pain but should only be used briefly.
Steroid injections. Steroid injections are another treatment for a pinched nerve, which can help the inflamed nerves to recover and can reduce swelling. Steroid injections usually take a couple of days until they begin to work, however, there are cases where you will feel the positive effect within only a few hours.
Physical therapy. However, this can be just the necessary time that your nerve needs to rest and heal from the inflammation. Some patients will also need physical therapy, which can help them stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected nerve. If certain movements seem to worsen your symptoms, you might need to wear a soft collar, which can allow your muscles to rest, while limiting motion.
If all conservative treatment options appear to be unsuccessful, you might need surgery. Surgical options vary from minimally invasive endoscopic discectomy to lumbar fusion. However, this is the last possible option considered.
Speak to your doctor, who can help you to find the best approach for your case. You must see your doctor if your symptoms are severe, if your pinched nerve pain keeps coming back or if your symptoms remain for more than a couple of days.
Diagnosing Nerve Impingement
To diagnose nerve impingement, your doctor might order a number of imaging tests such as:
- MRI scan
- EMG/NCV Nerve Test
Such imaging tests are used to determine how much damage the nerve has suffered and whether any issues are affecting the surrounding tissues.
What is the outlook for nerve impingement?
A pinched nerve can last for a couple of days, a couple of weeks, and even longer, depending on where the compression is located and how severe it is.
In most cases, conservative treatment options for a pinched nerve in the back are sufficient, such as:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- physical therapy
- corticosteroid injections
In most severe cases and especially if left untreated, nerve impingement can lead to permanent damage.
You must speak to your doctor if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of a pinched nerve in the back for a couple of days. Your doctor will help diagnose your condition and determine the right treatment approach.
Do you have any questions about pinched nerve or nerve compression? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the top sports injury doctor in Downtown, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan, Dr. Raval? Please call our office for a consultation and indicate which location you want to visit.
The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.
- Board Certified
- Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
Education & training
- SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
- Rutgers University Fellowship