If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a pinchednerve, finding treatment options that will work foryou is undoubtedly your top priority. Thisfrustrating condition can lead to a wide variety ofdifferent symptoms that can have a profoundimpact on your overall quality of life. However, withthe right approach, most people are able to managetheir discomfort with a carefully designed regimenof nonsurgical treatments over the course of severalweeks or months.
What is a Pinched Nerve?Before exploring pinched nerve treatment options, it can be extremely helpfulto have a basic understanding of what the condition is and why it is causingyou discomfort. When everything is working normally, the braincommunicates with the rest of the body through a complex infrastructure ofnerves that branch off of the spinal cord. This information superhighwayfacilitates the flow of motor and sensory signals throughout the body that areresponsible for all of our voluntary and involuntary actions.A pinched nerve refers to an instance where this flow of information isinterrupted by an external stimulus, such as inflammation from an injury. Thebody typically responds with pain signals, but a number of other symptomsmay also develop depending on the specific nerve that is affected. Forinstance, the compression of a nerve root in the lower back (lumbar spine)may cause symptoms to travel along the affected nerve and cause symptomsin the legs, which are commonly known as sciatica.
The Purpose of TreatmentThe implicit goal of pinched nerve treatment, then, is toalleviate the origin of the patient’s discomfort, which canget tricky if the origin of the pain isn’t readily known.That’s because one of the leading causes of nervecompression –particularly in older individuals – is thepresence of a degenerative spine condition that frequentlyaccompanies the natural aging process.Over the years, wear and tear take its toll on the spinalanatomy, which can cause intervertebral discs to ruptureor bulge, vertebral facet joints to becomearthritic, osteophytes to develop, ligaments to calcify, andother degenerative changes to occur. The problem is thatbecause the spinal anatomy is so tightly packed, any ofthese conditions can impact the spinal cord or nerve rootsin the spinal column, leading to symptoms. Only bydiagnosing the true origin of the patient’s compressednerve, can a doctor begin to formulate a treatment planthat will best serve the individual.
Conservative TreatmentThe good news about pinched nerves is that in most cases a regimenof conservative, nonsurgical treatments are all that is needed tomanage the symptoms that arise as a result of the constriction. Thatsaid, the specific treatments recommended will vary widely frompatient to patient depending on their specific diagnosis, the location ofthe problem, the patient’s overall health, the age of the individual, andother extenuating circumstances.However, with all of that in mind, pinched nerve treatment usuallyincludes some combination of over-the-counter or prescriptionnonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, low impact exercises, physicaltherapy, stretching, heat compresses, ice packs, and other similartreatments. Some individuals also turn to corticosteroidinjections, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, and variouscomplementary or alternative medicines, as well.
SurgeryDecompression surgery is normally considered the pinchednerve treatment of last resort and is reserved for individualswho haven’t sufficiently responded to several weeks ormonths of conservative treatment. In this case, there areseveral different types of spine procedures that may berecommended, depending on the specific prognosis. Forinstance, some individuals may benefit from an endoscopicprocedure conducted on an outpatient basis, while othersmay require spinal fusion surgery to maintain spinal stability.It depends entirely on the specific patient and their condition.To learn more about the specific herniated disc treatmentoptions currently available, schedule a consultation with aspine specialist in your area.