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All You Need to Know About Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve is an injury that occurs when additional pressure is exerted on a nerve, compressing it. This happens when the surrounding tissues are damaged or inflamed, exerting pressure on the nearby nerves, and leads to numbness, pain, and/or a tingling sensation in the affected area.

A herniated disc is often the cause of a pinched nerve. If the disc slips out of its place between the spinal vertebrae, it may end up pressing the spinal nerve going down the leg. Similarly, a pinched nerve may also be caused by irritated or swollen muscles, enlarged bones, or degenerated ligaments.

a woman after getting treatment for a pinched nerve

What Areas Are Affected by Pinched Nerves?

Pinched nerves aren’t restricted to a specific body part. They may occur throughout the body, depending on the location of the affected nerves. In most cases, pinched nerves occur in the following areas:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Upper and lower back
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Wrists
  • Elbows

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The most common symptoms of a pinched nerve are pain and discomfort in the affected area. In addition, you may also experience a tingling, stinging, burning, or numbing sensation, especially when the area comes into contact with a surface or is touched. Furthermore, muscle weakness is also commonly observed. You may experience an overall weakness in your body and have trouble gripping things.

In more severe cases, loss of bowel or bladder control is also possible.

How Is a Pinched Nerve Diagnosed?

A pinched nerve is often diagnosed via imaging tests. Your physician may prescribe an X-ray, an MRI, a CT scan, or an electromyogram to determine the extent of nerve inflammation and damage. The necessary imaging tests will help in outlining the exact issue and devising treatments accordingly.

doctors looking at an x-ray

How Is a Pinched Nerve Treated?

Conservative treatments for a pinched nerve involve over-the-counter medications, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, heat and ice packs, and supportive tools such as braces or collars. If the symptoms are more severe, you may require surgery to relieve the pressure exerted on the nerve that’s causing your pain.

We have a team of orthopedic spine specialists, pain management specialists, and licensed physical therapists at Houston Physicians’ Hospital’s Spine Solutions Center who can help you find relief for a pinched nerve. We also provide general surgery, spine solutions, knee pain treatments, and arthritis treatments.

Visit our website to find a doctor who’s right for you and to learn more about our imaging testing and treatment services.