Helping Seniors Live Healthier Lives

Pinched Nerves: The Symptom You Must Not Ignore

You may experience numbness, pain, a pins-and-needles feeling or a burning sensation. This experience is often referred to as having a pinched nerve, but this is not a technical term. This phenomenon is actually the result of one of several medical issues, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow or peripheral neuropathy. You will want to discuss this with your doctor because early treatment can prevent further complications.

Diagnosing Pinched Nerves

Before you can be treated, it is necessary that your doctor identify the source of the pinched nerve. For example, your doctor may conduct an electromyography, which is a nerve conduction study. This is used to determine the extent of the nerve damage and whether or not it needs to be repaired. For a pinched nerve in the neck or back, an MRI or CT scan is usually performed.

Conservative Treatments

Fortunately, treatment for a pinched nerve does not usually require surgical intervention. The most common treatment for a pinched nerve is to rest the area that is affected, especially when the injury is caused by repetitive injuries. You may need to work with a physical therapist who can teach you how to perform exercises that will strengthen muscles in a way that will take pressure off of the pinched nerve. Physical therapy is also often necessary because it helps undo the effects of a modern lifestyle.

How A Modern Lifestyle Contributes To Pinched Nerves

Modern work requires that arms be placed in front of the body, such as when typing. This leads to shoulders that are positioned forward and down. Also, this position tends to bend the spine in an unnatural position forward. All of these aspects of a modern work life can contribute to a pinched nerve. But both physical therapists and chiropractors are able to treat these conditions.

Surgical Treatments

Very severe pinched nerves may require surgery. While most people recover from a pinched nerve, the damage is sometimes irreversible. The reasons for surgery for a pinched nerve include the presence of intractable pain that does not respond to conservative treatments, a progressive weakness despite conservative treatments and "long tract symptoms" (LTS). LTS refers to symptoms that cause leg weakness, bladder problems or decreased sensation of the legs. 

Regardless of the cause of the pinched nerve, you will want to see a neurological treatment specialist like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D. Symptoms that may not seem very severe could have serious underlying causes that will worsen if they go untreated.