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Common Causes of Pinched Nerves

Common Causes of Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves are not only painful, they can make bending, twisting, turning, and reaching difficult. A pinched nerve is more likely to occur in the lower back, causing chronic back pain and having a major impact on your day-to-day activities. If you’re struggling with low back pain, it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist. 

Here at aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, Dr. Brian K. Rich routinely diagnoses and treats low back pain, including back pain caused by pinched nerves. Dr. Rich works to get to the root of your low back pain and recommend treatment options to get you on the path to feeling good again. 

What happens in your spine when you have a pinched nerve

The spine is made up of a group of bones called vertebrae, and your spinal cord passes through a hollow space (canal) in the core of these bones on its way down. Nerve roots emerge from the cord and travel between the vertebrae. A pinched nerve, also called radiculopathy, happens when the nerve roots are compressed.

While radiculopathy commonly occurs in the low back area, it can also occur in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) or other parts of the spine. Nerves can also be pinched as they travel through your arms and legs.

A pinched nerve typically causes:

Pain experienced from a pinched nerve is commonly described as a shooting pain that radiates outward.

What causes a pinched nerve?

Anything that compresses nerves can cause radiculopathy. A herniated disc is one of the most prevalent causes of pinched nerves. 

A herniated disc occurs when one or more discs that provide cushioning between the bones of the spine push out of place and into the spinal canal, placing pressure on nerves traveling through the canal. This can happen as a result of injury, but oftentimes age-related wear and tear and changes to the spine cause intervertebral discs to herniate. 

Treatment for a pinched nerve

Dr. Rich offers new and innovative treatments, along with traditional therapies to relieve your pain and help you feel better. Once you have a formal diagnosis, Dr. Rich will discuss appropriate treatment options. Nonsurgical therapies are the first line of treatment for radiculopathy. The following are some approaches to managing a pinched nerve. 

Patience and rest: For many people, a pinched nerve heals in a few days or weeks with rest. 

Ice and heat: These therapies can provide temporary relief.

NSAIDS: Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are two over-the counter pain medications that can ease pinched nerve pain.

Splints: Depending on the location or your radiculopathy, Dr. Rich may recommend that you wear a soft hand splint or neck collar for a short time to help you heal.

Corticosteroids: An injection of corticosteroids into the injured area relieves inflammation and can provide immediate relief. 

Physical therapy: Stretches and mild exercise can help reduce minor pain and relieve pressure on your nerves. Your physical therapist creates a program with exercises appropriate for a pinched nerve.

Surgery may be beneficial to certain people. A discectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing all or part of the disc pushing on a nerve root. Dr. Rich may need to remove sections of some vertebrae or fuse them together as part of this treatment.

Help for a pinched nerve

Stop in to see us if you’re dealing with persistent pain. The sooner we can evaluate you, the sooner we can put together a treatment plan to relieve your pain so you feel and function better. To get started, call the nearest office or book online to schedule a visit with Dr. Rich at one of our clinics in Southlake, Texas, or Lawton, Oklahoma.

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