The Most Common Pinched Nerve Causes

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    The Most Common Pinched Nerve Causes

    Pinched nerve causes can vary and may depend on where in the body the pinched nerve is located. For instance, if the median nerve in the wrist becomes compressed (carpal tunnel syndrome), one of the main causes is overexertion due to repetitive motions like typing for long periods of time. In the spine, however, the main cause of a pinched nerve is degeneration caused by the aging process. As we grow older, the elements of the tightly compact spinal column can begin to change. Intervertebral discs can bulge or herniate, bone spurs can develop in arthritic joints, and unstable vertebrae can shift out of alignment. Any of these degenerative changes can lead to spinal nerve compression.

    There are a variety of ways that a pinched nerve can develop in the spine. For instance, age-related degeneration may cause an intervertebral disc to bulge or herniate. A portion of the disc may then press on a nearby spinal nerve or nerve root. The same can occur if bone spurs develop or if a ligament, muscle, or tendon becomes inflamed.

    Risk Factors to Avoid

    In addition to degenerative pinched nerve causes, a pinched nerve can also occur due to a sudden injury, prolonged overexertion, obesity, high-impact contact sports, or congenital spine abnormalities. While there is really no way to avoid the possibility of a pinched nerve – some people will simply be more susceptible than others – there are several lifestyle adjustments you can make to keep your spine as healthy and strong as possible, including:

    • Quit smoking and/or use of tobacco products
    • Limit alcohol consumption
    • Maintain correct posture
    • Maintain a healthy body weight
    • Stay active
    • Stretch regularly

    These symptoms will tend to travel or radiate throughout the body. For instance, a compressed nerve in the neck (cervical spine) may cause discomfort to shoot through the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers, whereas an impinged nerve in the lower back (lumbar spine) may cause symptoms to radiate through the buttocks, hips, legs, feet, and toes

    What to Do After a Positive Diagnosis

    If, due to any of the above pinched nerve causes, you do develop nerve compression and your doctor confirms this during the course of a physical exam and medical imaging, you will need to embark on a treatment plan. Most people with a pinched nerve are able to relieve their symptoms with a regimen of conservative treatments that may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, gentle stretching, low-impact exercise, corticosteroid injections, hot compresses, and ice packs. Your doctor may also suggest ultrasound therapy, analgesic pain patches, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

    In the event that your symptoms do no abate after several months of the above treatments, surgery may become a consideration. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive approach to pinched nerve treatment. Our innovative, endoscopic techniques offer many patients a welcome alternative to the potential risks and complications of open spine surgery.

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