Feeling a Sharp Pain Down Your Spine?
It may just be muscle fatigue, but it could also be a pinched nerve.
Most often occurring at one of three main sections throughout the spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine), a pinched nerve—although typically non-life-threatening—can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling that make it difficult to go about our daily activities.
To combat this, there are a number of pinched nerve treatment options available (most of them non-surgical!) for you to try.
To learn about the latest techniques in pinched nerve treatment, you can consult with the Back, Neck, and Spine Team at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region. Through years of practice and education, our board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic specialists have gained an expert-level understanding of spinal conditions and how to employ the most advanced treatment techniques to heal them.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve is when compression or irritation occurs at the point where the nerve branches off from the spinal cord. As stated above, it most commonly occurs in the neck (cervical spine), and lower back (lumbar spine) and less commonly in the upper back (thoracic spine).
In younger patients, a pinched nerve is more commonly caused by a herniated disc, which can occur spontaneously or after a specific injury.
In older patients, a pinched nerve is more commonly found to be caused by wear-and-tear, typically in the form of arthritis—bone spurs, calcium deposits, thickened ligaments and collapsed/degenerated discs.
No matter the cause of your pinched nerve, symptoms may include:
- Sharp pain that radiates from the location of the nerve to the area served by the nerve.
- Numbness, tingling, and/or a burning sensation.
- Weakness in the surrounding muscles.
- Pain with subtle neck or back movement.
How to Treat a Pinched Nerve
Fortunately, most patients find relief with non-surgical pinched nerve treatment options. Common pinched nerve treatment techniques include:
- Physical Therapy
Specific exercises (coupled with spinal traction in some cases) done over an appropriate period of time can relieve pain, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and improve pain in the affected area.
Depending on the area of your spine that is affected, a soft cervical collar or a back brace can prevent further pinching by limiting movement and allowing the surrounding muscles to rest. Note that most braces will need to be worn for short spurts of time to prevent permanent muscle weakness. You should follow the specific instructions of your orthopedic specialist for the best results.
- Oral Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen or oral corticosteroids can relieve pain by reducing inflammation, swelling, and irritation. There are other medications that can be prescribed as well.
- Steroid Injections
Steroids are injected near the affected nerve to reduce inflammation.
If after an allotted period of time the pinched nerve is still not healed from non-surgical treatments, or symptoms of weakness and numbness progress, surgery may be recommended. Surgery can include:
- Lumbar microdiscectomy
The herniated disc is removed from the spine helping to relieve any pressure placed on the affected nerve.
- Lumbar laminectomy/hemi-laminectomy
A procedure where bone spurs and thickened ligaments pressing on nerves are removed to relieve the symptoms of a pinched nerve.
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
This is the most common procedure to heal pinched nerves in the cervical spine (neck). The problematic disc and/or bone spurs are removed, and then the spine is stabilized through spinal fusion. This procedure is performed via an incision in the frontside (anterior) of the body.
- Cervical disc replacement
An alternative to cervical fusion for some patients, the disc herniation and bone spurs are removed and an artificial disc is inserted.
- Posterior Cervical Laminoforaminotomy
Similar to the treatment listed above, this procedure is generally geared towards pinched nerves in the cervical spine (neck). The surgeon will first use special tools to shave down the lamina (the arched bone that forms the backside of the spinal canal) to better access the affected nerve. The doctor will then remove any bone, bone spurs, tissue, or portions of herniated disc that are causing the pinched nerve. This procedure is performed via an incision in the backside (posterior) of the body.
Experience Exceptional Pinched Nerve Treatment With EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region
A pinched nerve may go away on its own, but it may also get worse with time. When it comes to your health, take the safe route and consult with EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region’s Back, Neck, and Spine Specialists to access a wealth of knowledge, experience, and medical innovations.
To learn more, schedule an appointment now. Or, call us any time at (919) 220-5255.