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What is the Deal with Pinched Nerves?
If nerves become compressed in your spine or other body parts, you may experience pain, stiffness, numbness or tingling. This condition is commonly called a pinched nerve. It is possible with time, rest, and home care to recover from a pinched nerve. Sometimes the symptoms are more significant or persistent and require medical treatment. Healthcare professionals such as spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City know how to help patients with this condition.
What is a pinched nerve?
A pinched or compressed nerve is just that; a tissue or bone is pushed abnormally and presses on nerve roots to cause discomfort. Pinched nerves can occur in various places in the body, such as the neck, upper middle back, chest, lower back, elbow, hand, or wrist. It is completely based on the location of the nerve being compressed.
What causes it?
Numerous conditions can lead to a pinched nerve. These may include:
What does it feel like and will it go away?
Common symptoms of a pinched nerve include one or more sensations of sharp pain, dull ache, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. Most patients experience dissipating symptoms over time, usually within four to six weeks. Home treatments like rest and over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen provide relief. If symptoms persist or worsen after several days, it is advisable to call an experienced physician like Dr. Fischer for an evaluation.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis is often possible upon a doctor’s examination of the affected area of the patient’s body. This may include the neck, shoulders, back, arms, chest, wrist, or hands. The doctor will ask about sensations and check for muscle weakness and reflexes. Sometimes tests like X-rays, CT scan, MRI, or electromyography may be recommended to help pinpoint the source of the pinched nerve.
What about treatment?
The first course of treatment consists of non-invasive methods. Rest, cold and hot therapy, over-the-counter medications, splints, cervical collars, corticosteroids, and physical therapy are some of the techniques that Dr. Fischer advises. If symptoms do not go away and the patient is very uncomfortable, Dr. Fischer may suggest surgery as a final resort. The specific procedure depends on the location of the pinched nerve. Surgery is a much more aggressive treatment and takes more time to recover, so specialists avoid this when possible.