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Steven S Hughes, MD
What Is a Pinched Nerve In the Spine?

What Is a Pinched Nerve In the Spine?

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bone spurs or herniated disc material. This pressure disrupts the nerve's function, causing pain, tingling, numbness,

and/or weakness.

This process typically occurs as we age in the neck and lower back. Younger people typically herniate disc material, whereas in the older population bone spurs from arthritis may enlarge to the point of pinching or compressing nerves; this is called stenosis.

A herniated disk in your lower spine may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates from the back of the hip down the back of your leg (sciatica). Likewise, a pinched nerve in your neck may cause pain or numbness to the shoulder and arm.

The initial treatment for nerve pain is an evaluation by your physician to check history of the symptoms, the strength in your limb, and the level of pain that you are having. The most common treatment is generic pain relivers such as Aleve, Advil, or Motrin, and physical therapy. Your symptoms should resolve in a few weeks, and if they don't, the next step might be an MRI or CT scan prior to considering injection treatments.

With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. Occasionally surgery is necessary to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. These procedures are very safe and effective when done by an experienced surgeon.

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