An explanation of pinched nerve symptoms and treatments for patients in Cincinnati who are considering Laser Spine Institute
Patients suffering from pinched nerves often experience persistent, chronic pain. Before looking into how to treat a pinched nerve, it is beneficial to understand the condition and symptoms of a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve causes pain or impaired function when a nerve is under so much pressure that its ability to carry signals is hindered. Pinching or compression often affects nerve roots in the spine that control muscle movements and relay sensations of feeling throughout the body.
Pinched nerve causes
Most pinched nerves are caused when surrounding bone, muscle, tendons or ligaments put pressure on a nearby nerve. This commonly occurs due to a spine condition like bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs, facet disease, arthritis of the spine or degenerative disc disease. These conditions are often a result of the natural aging process, though factors such as excessive body weight, tobacco use, playing high-impact sports and traumatic injury may also be a contributing factor.
Pinched nerve diagnosis
Schedule an appointment with your physician if you are experiencing pinched nerve symptoms that last for more than a few days. To accurately diagnose a pinched nerve, your physician will listen to you describe your symptoms, review your medical history, conduct a physical examination and then order an imaging test. Often, these tests include MRIs, CT scans and X-rays, though a nerve conduction study is also a valuable diagnostic tool.
Pinched nerves symptoms
Symptoms of a pinched nerve can vary, depending on the location or severity of the nerve compression. Pinched nerves in the cervical spine may lead to symptoms radiating into the shoulders, arms and hands. Likewise, pinched nerves in the lumbar spine (lower back) can lead to radiating symptoms down the lower extremities. Symptoms include:
- Pain. Pain can develop at the general area of the pinched nerves, or down the patient’s arms or legs. This can occur when a bulging or herniated disc causes a shift in the outer disc material, resulting in the disc pinching a nerve.
- Numbness. When disc material presses on surrounding nerves or other elements of the spinal canal, a person may experience numbness in corresponding areas of the body.
- Weakness. Patients may also experience weakness due to the surrounding nerves being pinched.
- Tingling. Tingling in the hands or feet is also commonly found in patients with a pinched nerve.
Nonsurgical pinched nerve treatment
Many patients with a pinched nerve can be successfully treated without surgery thanks to a course of conservative and alternative treatment. Conservative treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and stretching can help to relieve pain as well as reduce the amount of pressure placed on the spine. Alternative methods of treatment, which promote the body’s natural healing process, include acupuncture, massage and chiropractic manipulation. Although the effectiveness of alternative treatments are still being researched and debated in the medical community, many patients have reported them successful in relieving their pinched nerve pain.
How to treat pinched nerves with surgery
Pinched nerves in the spine are associated with other conditions. Therefore, before starting any treatment for pinched nerves, it is best to have an MRI or CT scan to determine the cause of the pinched nerve. If surgery is recommended, but you have concerns about undergoing a traditional procedure, there are other options. Laser Spine Institute’s Cincinnati center offers minimally invasive spine surgery that can help to treat pain associated with conditions that cause pinched nerves.
These procedures include:
- Discectomy. If the source of nerve compression is a bulging or herniated spinal disc, our surgeons can perform a discectomy procedure to remove the part of the disc that is causing the pinched nerve.
- Foraminotomy. A pinched nerve can also be caused by narrowing of the openings that allow nerves to exit the spine, called foramina. With this surgical procedure we remove the material, such as a bone spur, that is the source of narrowing.
- Laminotomy. This procedure is the removal of a small portion of the lamina, which helps protect the spinal cord, to relieve nerve compression in the spinal canal.
- Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF). This stabilization procedure is performed by removing a severely damaged disc and replacing it with a bone graft to fuse together the surrounding vertebrae.
- Transforaminal Lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). This is a minimally invasive fusion that is performed to spare nerve roots in the spinal column while relieving a pinched nerve and stabilizing the spine.
If you are suffering from a pinched nerve that is interfering with your quality of life, do not wait to find the relief that you deserve. Our minimally invasive procedures provide a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures, helping our patients enjoy a reduced risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^
Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information and to receive a no-cost review of your most recent MRI or CT scan* to see if you may be a candidate for one of these procedures at our Cincinnati center.