If you are suffering from head and neck pain, there are a number of causes you might consider – one of which is a pinched nerve. Formally known as cervical radiculopathy, a pinched nerve can not only be painful, but can also indicate more serious issues with the spine. Many people that experience pinched nerves may try to wait out the pain or treat it at home rather than visiting or looking for “orthopedic surgeons near me“. Not only can doctors help you to understand whether a pinched nerve is causing your pain, but they will also be able to provide treatment that alleviates pain and corrects the issue for good.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve will also sometimes be called a compressed nerve – both allude to the fact that the condition involves a nerve being crowded in some way. Nerves normally branch off of the spinal cord through the spaces between vertebrae. If one of these spaces shrinks for any reason, this would press on the nerve root and cause symptoms in the area that nerve is related to. This can occur for a wide variety of reasons.
The most common cause of a pinched nerve is simple inflammation in the spine. When the tissues surrounding a nerve become inflamed, the swelling can cause pressure to be placed on the nerves. This inflammation can be caused by strain, injuries, or repetitive motions that cause a reaction in the tissue.
Pinched nerves can also be related to a number of more serious conditions. Spinal stenosis, a diagnosis associated with spinal arthritis, can result in the narrowing of the spinal column, in addition to herniated discs and bone spurs, which would lead to pinched nerves. Degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, and age-related changes can also contribute to pinched nerves.
Because nerves are designed to communicate sensory information between your brain and your body, symptoms of a pinched nerve can vary widely based on the location of the nerve. Tingling and numbness, burning sensations, fatigue, and a lack of muscle control are some possible symptoms you may experience.
Treating a Pinched Nerve
The majority of people with a pinched nerve will be able to recover using conservative, non-invasive treatments. If you believe you may be suffering from a pinched nerve, you should always visit an orthopedic surgeon near you to ensure that is the problem and rule out any more serious spinal issues. These doctor visits can also help determine if a more chronic ailment, like spinal arthritis, is to blame. If you are presenting with a simple pinched nerve, your doctor will likely recommend a number of home treatments.
Anti-inflammatory pain medications can be bought over-the-counter, like ibuprofen, and are often recommended to treat the inflammation that causes pain. Alternating heat and ice therapy, light massage, and avoiding strenuous activities are all recommended as well.
Once the immediate pain is managed, your doctor may suggest physical therapy to help you regain strength and range of motion in the affected area. This will consist of careful exercises that allow you to move without causing new irritation to your nerve root. This may be accompanied by a cervical collar or pillow to assist with healing.
When Pinched Nerve Pain Persists
If your pain continues after six to twelve weeks of treatment, your doctor may re-evaluate your original diagnosis and perform further imaging to understand the state of the spine. In some cases, your diagnosis may be more complex and require more invasive intervention.
One option that can be used is an epidural nerve block. With this treatment, a steroid is injected into space near the spine. The steroid then spreads out over the nerve root, calming it down and reducing pain.
If your pain remains the same, or you experience other issues such as weakness or difficulty with mobility, you may be a candidate for surgery as a solution. Doctors prefer non-invasive methods of treatment, so before moving to surgery you will likely undergo further imaging and consultations to confirm this is the best route.
Outlook on Pinched Nerves
The good news is that most people who suffer from a pinched nerve will recover well with basic treatment and proper care by an orthopedic surgeon near you. However, there are some cases where recurrences may happen in the future and the pinched nerve will need to be treated again. It is important to visit an orthopedic surgeon near you to understand the root cause of your pain and prevent future instances. At AICA Orthopedics, our doctors work with physical therapists and chiropractors to provide holistic care that addresses the root cause of your pain. Our goal is for you to return to full mobility and health, no matter the injury.