Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve

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Think you have a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is a common experience for most people over the age of 35.  Usually, it is associated with pain,  burning, or a tingling sensation to either the arms or legs.   While the pinching can occur out the spine, in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, most of the time,  it is associated with a compression of a nerve within the spine.

In the Above diagram,  it demonstrates the effect of a disc herniation pinching a nerve in the neck.  The disc material physically compresses the nerve as it goes outside the canal.  The pinched nerve causes the associated pain,  burning, tingling and numbness.    In more severe situations,  the pinching will also impair the muscle movements associated with that particular nerve,  causing weakness.

While initially very painful,  a pinched nerve usually does improve and heal over time.

For mild situations,  your physician may recommend activities restrictions,  use of gentle massage and therapy, and an anti-inflammatory medication (if you can tolerate them).  For most patients,  the episode of the pinched nerve is often hard to pin point.  It may be caused by a certain activity.  It may be caused by a very innocent movement,  or a cough or a sneeze.  In some cases,  it may be secondary to a heavy lifting or a twisting event.  In these situations,  the nerve will initially become inflamed by the situation.  But,  gradually,  overtime,  the inflammation goes away.  Most recommendations are designed to reduce the inflammation.  That is why most physicians recommend anti-inflammation drugs (if you can tolerate them), ice, and time.    Fortunately,  this is the typical pattern of most pinched nerve events.

For more significant events,  there may be associated severe pain, and a history of a specific event such as a heavy lift,  or an accident. Usually,  the pinched nerve presents itself quickly, and there is a good history of the associated pain,  burning, numbness or tingling to a specific arm or leg.   Usually in the scenario,  as long as there is not significant weakness associated with the pain,  or no loss of bodily function of bladder or bowel control,  the same treatments above are recommended.  Even in the most severely pinched nerve, there still is a good chance the nerve will recover with time.

In a minority of pinched nerve events,  the situation becomes more progressive, with time.  If the pinched nerve is also associated with progressive increasing pain,  increasing weakness, or losing of bladder and bowel function,  this can become an emergent event.  If the physician has concerns that this is becoming a progressive problem,  the pinched nerve needs further diagnostic evaluations, and may ultimately require surgical intervention.  Fortunately,  the need for surgical intervention is necessary for only a small percent of all patients.

Citations

  • Cheng CH, Tsai LC, Chung HC, Hsu WL, Wang SF, Wang JL, Lai DM, Chien A. Exercise training for non-operative and post-operative patient with cervical radiculopathy: a literature review. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Sep;27(9):3011-8. PubMed PMID: 26504347

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

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The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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