A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as cartilage, muscles or tendons, or by surrounding bones.
This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, typically causing:
While pinched nerves can occur throughout the body, the spine (including the back and neck) is one of the most common places. The nerve roots surrounded by the vertebral column are particularly vulnerable to becoming pinched because they are tightly crowded in the spinal canal.
Nerves of the brain and spinal cord comprise the central nervous system. These nerves branch out and deliver impulses and instructions throughout the body. A spinal pinched nerve occurs when any of these nerves are put under pressure or become compressed.
The nerve compression results in pain and other symptoms that can limit the crucial functioning of these nerves. This can disrupt the appropriate signals to control the muscles of the body.
In addition to pain, pinched nerves may cause a number of other common symptoms.
Symptoms will vary according to the area in which the pinched nerve(s) occur. These areas are:
General signs and symptoms of pinched nerves include:
The typical causes and conditions listed below don’t necessarily result in symptoms. However, when these conditions also cause a pinched nerve, people will likely experience symptoms.
Many of these are common features of the aging process and/or of wear and tear on the relevant parts of the body:
In the event of a suspected pinched nerve, a thorough examination is conducted by a neurosurgical spine specialist. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact our team of expert neurosurgeons.
At your appointment, your doctor will discuss your general health and medical history, and review symptoms. The doctor will also perform a physical examination of the neck/back, examining for reflexes, muscle weakness or diminished sensation.
Additional tests for a pinched nerve may include:
In some cases, a pinched nerve can resolve on its own. There are also a variety of non-surgical options to treat pain and other symptoms of a pinched nerve. Pain relief can allow patients to undertake other rehabilitation measures, such as special exercises.
Conservative care is initially recommended. This includes the following:
However, in other cases, surgery is clearly indicated.
In the event that surgery is recommended, patients benefit from the advances and advantages of minimally invasive surgical techniques. These techniques include:
A full explanation of diagnostic testing and spinal surgical procedures for pinched nerves and other conditions is available here.
At Advanced Neurosurgery Associates, our spine expert Dr. Vivek Ramakrishnan is widely experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical and lumbar pinched nerves. Dr. Ramakrishnan works individually with each patient to customize care. If all nonsurgical methods are exhausted, and surgery is indicated, he utilizes minimally invasive techniques whenever possible.