Pinched nerves (radiculopathy) happen when nerves originating from the spinal cord become pinched or damaged from constriction, compression, or stretching. Different parts of the body may be affected by pinched nerves depending on which nerve or group of nerves is affected.
Pinched nerves may not require treatment, and in some cases, the pinched nerves go away as the back and nerves heal.
12 Treatments for Pinched Nerves
When needed, treatment to fix a pinched nerve may include:
- Avoiding activities that worsen the pain
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Prescription pain medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Injections to numb the back
- Injections to reduce swelling
- Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen surrounding muscles
- Wearing a splint or collar
- Surgery to repair the problem
What Does a Pinched Nerve Feel Like?
Symptoms of pinched nerves include:
- In the area where the nerve is pinched or compressed
- Radiating out from the injured area
- “Pins and needles” sensation
- Burning sensation
Pinched nerves in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) cause these symptoms to occur running down one or both arms.
In lumbosacral radiculopathy (“sciatica”), these symptoms occur in the buttocks or down the legs.
What Causes Pinched Nerves?
Pinched nerves (radiculopathy) usually occur due to a problem with the back that causes a nerve to become pinched or damaged, such as:
- Herniated discs
- A condition in which the discs between the vertebrae break open and bulge out, causing them to press on or irritate nearby nerves
- Bone spurs from on the vertebrae, which press on nearby nerves
- Commonly occurs with spinal stenosis
- Other medical conditions that injure the nerves near the spinal cord
- Repetitive motions
- Nerve compression between tissues such as bone, ligaments, and tendons, which is a common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome
How Are Pinched Nerves Diagnosed?
Pinched nerves (radiculopathy) are diagnosed based on a patient history of symptoms and a physical examination.
If nerve damage is suspected, tests may include:
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