Nerves can be found in every part of the body. The expansive nervous system travels from the brain, through the back and to the rest of the body. Within the spinal column is a long trunk, the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, numerous nerve roots travel through spaces in between the bony vertebrae and discs that separate them. It is here where the opportunity for compression exists. A compressed nerve is commonly known as a pinched nerve. However, the way that a pinched nerve is usually described is more like “my back hurts” or “my neck hurts.”
A pinched nerve can cause a host of symptoms. Some of them may not even feel painful; more like annoying. Signs that a nerve may be suffering compression include:
- Burning, aching, or cramping sensations.
- Numbness or tingling in the neck, back, or extremities.
- Muscle weakness.
- Pins-and-needles sensation.
- Loss of full range of motion.
What Causes a Pinched Nerve?
Slight nerve compression could occur when a segment of the spine shifts out of alignment. Vertebrae are supposed to line up one on top of the other, with soft inward and outward curves at the low back and neck areas. Misalignment can result from an accident, fall, or just from daily activities. In such cases, rest and anti-inflammatory medication may resolve the issue.
A pinched nerve may also be caused by a herniated disc. A herniated disc is one in which the outer layer of tough material has torn or ruptured. This tear allows the gelatinous inner material of the disc to spill out. Herniated discs are typically in the early stages of degeneration and are less likely to fully heal with lifestyle changes and activity modifications.
Diagnosing and Treating a Pinched Nerve
Pain from a pinched nerve can interrupt daily activities. The back, neck, and radiating pain caused by pinched nerves accounts for thousands of days of missed work in our country. It’s a problem that needs to be resolved. Understandably, many people attempt to manage the symptoms of a pinched nerve without a doctor’s care. There may be a concern that a spinal specialist will recommend surgery, and that a surgical procedure will require weeks or months of recovery.
Over the past several years, spinal surgeries have been refined to make most procedures minimally invasive. Furthermore, even a spinal surgeon will recommend conservative therapies whenever possible. What we’re trying to say is, come see us. If you’re affected by back or neck pain, the first order of business is to discover why. A thorough examination and imaging of the spine can identify where pain is coming from, right down to the exact discs and bones involved in nerve compression. Once the problem is identified, treatment options can be discussed.
Dr. Watson specializes in minimally invasive laser spinal decompression surgery. His technique quickly releases the pinched nerve and restores optimal comfort and range of motion. Patients do not have to wait months to feel better again, they recovery in a matter of days.
Get the help you need for unresolved back or neck pain. Schedule a consultation in our Tampa office at (813) 920-3022.