Pinched Nerve Diagnosis and Treatments
Diagnosing a Pinched Nerve
In order to get the right treatment for your pinched nerve, you’ll need an accurate diagnosis. Our medical team will take you through a comprehensive diagnostic workup that might include the following:
- Getting your medical history. Our doctors will want to know your current symptoms, previous treatments you’ve had for the symptoms, and what you are currently doing to mitigate the pain.
- A thorough physical examination. Your spine specialist will want to examine you for signs of any issues with your balance, pain, loss of sensation, weakness in your muscles, or any signs of spinal cord damage.
- Diagnostic testing. This usually includes x-rays to rule out infections or tumors. Other imaging such as CT scans gives your spinal doctor a three-dimensional view of your spine and its structure.
Treatment Options for a Pinched Nerve
Non-Operative Treatment for Pinched Nerves
Your doctor will want to start with conservative treatments for your pinched nerve. These benefit most patients with pinched nerve symptoms. Conservative treatments include:
- Pain medication, including muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, and sometimes even narcotic painkillers.
- Alternating cold and hot compresses for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
- Physical therapy to stretch, massage, and strengthen your back.
- Epidural steroid injections to reduce your inflammation and help your spine specialist pinpoint the exact location of your pinched nerve.
Least Invasive Endoscopic Procedure Options for Pinched Nerves
If you are still experiencing pinched nerve symptoms after attempting conservative treatments, then it may be time to consider a surgical option. The following procedure offers up to a 90% success rate in treating bulging discs and pinched nerves.
- Endoscopic Discectomy (transforaminal or interlaminar): Using an incision that’s only about a ¼ of an inch long, your spinal surgeon can access the spinal canal without damaging your muscles. Using a high-definition camera, your surgeon will locate the herniated disc and complete the procedure. Most patients are able to return to work within the week. Conscious sedation is used, eliminating the risk of general anesthesia, so you are comfortable and aware during the surgery.
Endoscopic Discectomy – Learn More
What to Expect Following Treatment
Most patients are able to recover from a pinched nerve with a combination of rest and non-operative treatment options within a few days or weeks. However, if your doctor recommends a surgical option, like the endoscopic discectomy performed by the specialists at Spine Institute of North America, you can usually expect a short recovery time.
How Long Is Recovery After an Endoscopic Discectomy?
Patients undergoing an endoscopic discectomy can expect the entire procedure to last about an hour. There are no stitches, simply a band-aid placed over the incision area. Although there shouldn’t be a great deal of pain afterward, some patients report feeling:
- Muscle aches or soreness
- Some pain at the incision site
- Infrequent twinges of pain as the nerve regenerates
- Some drowsiness
Directly after the procedure, it takes about an hour to recover before you can go home. After just a few days, many patients feel well enough to return to work. However, you should always listen to your body and discuss symptoms with your doctor.
The long-term prognosis for patients recovering from an endoscopic discectomy is good, with a 90 percent success rate. If you think you may be experiencing a pinched nerve, turn to the experts at Spine Institute of North America, which has locations in East Brunswick, Marlton and East Windsor.