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Treatment for Pinched Nerve

by Brad McHargue
  • Overview

    A pinched nerve is an all-encompassing term used to describe any abnormal amount of pressure being placed upon a nerve, typically by muscles, bones, cartilage and tendons. It can occur in any part of the body, and although rarely serious, can lead to complications. Although most pinched nerves heal on their own with nothing more than rest of the affected area, conservative and more in-depth methods exist to help treat them.
  • Causes and Symptoms

    Possible causes of a pinched nerve include obesity, traumatic injury, osteoarthritis, repeated stress on the affected area and bad posture. Symptoms of a pinched nerve include: numbness and a diminished sense of feeling; pain radiating outward from the affected area; and the feeling that the area has "fallen asleep," characterized by a "pins and needles" sensation. For severe cases, other conditions may occur, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Conservative Treatment

    The primary method of treating a pinched nerve is through rest of the affected area. This is often used in conjunction with stabilizing devices such as braces or splints to limit mobility of the affected area, allowing it time to heal. You can treat pain and inflammation through the use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. In the event that your pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe a stronger NSAID for you to use.
  • Surgery

    If your symptoms do not subside after conventional treatment and persist for more than a few weeks, surgery is often recommended. The method of surgery performed is dependent on the location and the cause of compression. Given that many pinched nerves occur in the spine, there are a number of surgical techniques to treat this. These include: a laminotomy, which involves the use of an endoscope to remove pressure from the spinal nerve; a foraminotomy, which involves the use of an endoscope to open the vertebral foramen (an opening in the spine) to allow more room for the nerves; and a percutaneous endoscopic discectomy, which involves the surgical removal of a herniated or bulging disc.

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