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When to Seek Care for a Pinched Nerve

When to Seek Care for a Pinched Nerve

When you’re suffering from a pinched nerve, the suffering can manifest through a variety of aches and pains. While some of these may go away on their own, others can become persistent, affecting your quality of life for their duration. Since they can cause such a range of symptoms, and with their duration unknown, when is a good time to visit your doctor? Let’s break down what a pinched nerve does, why it happens and what you can do about it.

The Causes of Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve occurs whenever surrounding tissue puts pressure on it, limiting its function. This issue can occur for a wide variety of reasons, such as:

  • Injury: Swelling or scarring can trigger significant pressure on nerves.
  • Herniated Disc: Your spinal disc has been damaged, bulged or herniated, putting pressure on a spinal nerve
  • Sports: Intense, repetitive activity can trigger swelling and compression of tissue.
  • Spinal Stenosis: As degenerative disease in the spine develops, the bones surrounding the spinal nerves can become arthritic and enlarge to impinge on nerves.

A pinched nerve can present itself in a number of ways, depending on which nerve is affected. Some cause numbness while others bring on an intense, sharp, radiating pain. You can also experience a “pins and needles” feeling in local areas, muscle weakness or areas “falling asleep.”

If a nerve in the back is pinched, it can cause more severe symptoms. You can feel pain radiating through one entire side of your body or lose strength in the lower extremities. Some see their reflexes diminishing as well.

If you have a nerve that’s pinched due to swelling, you may feel symptoms over a few days, losing intensity as swelling fades. Basic pain relievers can help get through these temporary pinches. However, if the swelling is due to a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, the nerve may be permanently pinched. If so, it can eventually die, losing its ability to transmit impulses.


If symptoms don’t subside after a few days, it’s smart to have a doctor examine you. They can help to reduce the cause of the pinch, freeing the nerve before it can suffer any long-term damage. Treatment for a pinched nerve can be as varied as its causes. Popular noninvasive methods include:

  • Ice and heat packs
  • Massage therapy
  • Targeted stretching
  • Exercise
  • Over the counter Ibuprofen

If these methods don’t provide relief, pain interventional management and possibly spinal surgery are often the next step. Many procedures today are least or minimally invasive with faster recovery time. Least invasive procedures have become a common and incredibly effective way to quickly get rid of this pain with no hospital stay and less than 1-inch incision.

Pinched nerves in the spine should not be allowed to turn into permanent problems. Contact us today at Spine Institute of North America for an evaluation with one of our top experts. We’ll find a quick, effective solution that will begin your recovery.

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