Do you have a Pinched Nerve? Find out what your symptoms mean—in a few painless clicks.
What is a Pinched Nerve?
“So often anymore when I go to stand up I find my left foot asleep.” “My right hand just curls up with pain off and on throughout the day.” “My thigh muscle keeps tightening up in horrific agony that emphatically shuts me down.” These statements, and many similar ones, reflect the serious consequences of pinched nerves in our bodies.
A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve becomes compressed, irritated, or inflamed. Pinched nerves can strike at a number of locations throughout our bodies—and especially to any of our crucially fundamental 31 pairs of spinal nerves. Accidents, the aging processes, remiss stretching and exercising, overstress, overwork, and obesity… These are the prevailing culprits that cause abnormal conditions of our body’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones, and cartilage. These malformations very often apply excess pressure on adjacent nerves, a condition known as radiculopathy.
Radiculopathy disrupts the nerve’s function which, in turn, causes pain, cramps, spasms, and overall disruption to our normal activities. Contributing factors to radiculopathy include such issues as bone spurs, spinal stenosis, degenerative arthritis, degenerative disc disease, herniated or bulging discs, and weight gain. People in general, including those who are suffering the effects of pinched nerves, benefit greatly by becoming better informed as to what these issues entail.
Common Pinched Nerve Causes
For example, common causes of pinched nerves often include:
- Bone Spurs (Osteophytes): Tiny, pointed outgrowths of bone caused by local inflammation from degenerative arthritis or tendinitis. Bone spurs can compress our spinal nerves which are routed through, and protected within, our spinal column.
- Spinal Stenosis: A narrowing of the spaces within our spine which can also apply pressure to our spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back, or lumbar spine, and in the neck, or cervical spine.
- Degenerative Arthritis(Osteoarthritis): The most common form of arthritis which affects millions of people globally. This disease most commonly affects our spine, hip, knee, and hand joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bone-ends at our joints gradually deteriorates. This cushioning cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that permits for friction-free joint movement. Degenerative arthritis causes the slick surface of the cartilage to become rough and eventually erode away in its entirety. In the long run, this leads to bone-on-bone grinding and further damage.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: The breakdown of our jelly donut-like, shock-absorbing discs. These discs cushion the impact of our spinal vertebrae as we bend, twist, and stretch our bodies.
- Herniated Disc: A protrusion that distends from one of the rubbery, disc-shaped cushions that are sandwiched between our individual vertebrae. These discs are stacked one on top of the other to collectively make up our spine. The bulging of a bulging disc—also referred to as a slipped, ruptured, or prolapsed disc—occurs when some of the inner soft jelly is squeezed outward through a tear in the tougher peripheral portion of the disc.
- Weight Gain: A “sleeping sponsor” or “active enhancer” of pinched nerves. Being overweight or obese has many connections to nerve pain. Excess body weight applies stress to our spine, as well as every other joint of our body. Our ideal body weight is “ideal” for many fantastic and wonderful, ideal reasons.
Are you, or someone you care about, experiencing any of the symptoms above? Extensive research has shown that the longer these symptoms persist, the more difficult they become to treat.
Dr. Fraizer and his excellent team are committed to discovering the optimal combination of treatments to enrich your quality of life. Contact Dr. Fraizer today and rest reassured that you will receive the highest quality of conservative care and compassionate expertise.
Where Is Your Pain Coming From?
Nerves in the human body are interconnected virtually everywhere. Most of these nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which is one of the two broadly divided systems of the human nerve network. The second component, known as the central nervous system (CNS), is composed of the nerve network within our brains and spinal cord. The point where these spinal nerves exit the spine creates the initial segment of the nerve root and signifies the beginning of the PNS.
This connective network of nerves consists of more than 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) which network in bundle form throughout our bodies. Similar to light bulb filaments, these connective nerves transport signals between our brain and every other part of our bodies. In addition, our brain is a continuous, nerve-networking computer in and of itself. In fact, if the human brain were nothing more than a computer, it could perform around thirty-eight thousand trillion operations per second.
Together, the CNS and PNS coordinate the functioning of our bodies. Points of impairment within this system can, and do, generate distressing signals elsewhere in our bodies.
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What are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
Very often, pinched nerve symptoms include the following warning signs:
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the area of our bodies being supplied by a particular set of nerves
- Pain that is sharp, aching, radiating, shooting, or burning especially in our arms or legs
- Tingling sensations that feel like pins and needles
- Frequent “fallen asleep” feelings that occur mainly in our hands and feet
- Muscle weakness in the affected areas of our bodies
- Reduced ability to go to sleep & stay asleep because of nerve-related pain and discomfort
It is important to realize that the location of our actual symptoms is almost always not the site of the actual pinched nerve.
For example, a herniated disc in the lumbar spine may cause pain to radiate down our hip, into our upper leg, and even further down into our feet. Historically, doctors have termed this symptom “sciatica” because the pain seems to be stemming from the sciatic nerve. In fact, modern technology (especially the MRI) has proven that over 95% of these cases have nothing to do with a sciatic nerve problem. Instead, the pain originates from lumbar radiculopathy, or a pinched nerve radiating outward from the lumbar spine above the pelvis.
Tired of suffering from pinched nerve pain? You deserve only the very best! If you are experiencing any of these troubling and debilitating symptoms, then contact our office today. Dr. Frazier has over 20 years of gifted experience in correctly diagnosing and successfully treating symptoms like yours. Let’s go to work together and have you feeling like yourself again!
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What are the Treatments for a Pinched Nerve?
How are pinched nerves identified in your body? Initially, your doctor will obtain a personal history of your specific symptoms. Then, your physician will perform a thorough physical exam to assess your overall health. This will allow your doctor to determine the best options to create a personalized treatment plan for you. Modern day technology affords many avenues for confirming your diagnosis, including:
- MRI Scans: The “gold standard” of imaging studies, which most doctors prefer. An MRI is considered to be the best test for actually visualizing the spinal nerves.
- X-Ray or CT Scans: Imaging which provides very precise detail as to the actual bony anatomy of the human body.
- An Electrodiagnostic Study (EMG/NCS): These can greatly assist your doctor in identifying pinched or damaged nerves throughout the body. This neurologic test involves using electrical pulses and small needles. Your doctor inserts these needles into the muscles where your actual symptoms are occurring. This procedure helps to identify both spinal nerves that cause symptoms, as well as pinched nerves located elsewhere in the body.
What Do Treatment Plans Often Include?
Treatment plans for pinched nerves often include a combination of conservative and minimally invasive techniques. Nonsurgical techniques for pinched nerves may entail:
- Physical Therapy: The treatment of a disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods. PT embraces stretching and exercise techniques designed to relieve symptoms and restore muscle tone and stability. Additional therapy techniques include therapeutic massage and treatments that use hot or cold compresses.
- NSAIDs: Refers to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce tissue swelling which impinges upon adjacent nerves.
If your doctor judges that your pinched nerve requires surgery, then he or she may suggest the following methods:
- Spinal Decompression Surgery: Refers to various surgical procedures that are designed to relieve symptoms caused by spinal cord and nerve compression.
- Laminectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the back of one or more vertebrae. Doing so provides access to the spinal cord and relieves pressure on the related nerves.
- Endoscopy Discectomy: The minimally invasive removal of abnormal disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord.
- Endoscopy Foraminotomy: A micro (minimally invasive) procedure to widen the foramina, openings from which nerves radiate outward to the body.
- Artificial Disc Replacement: An outpatient procedure that optimizes bulging disc relief while minimizing postoperative recovery times.
How Can I Also Help Myself
The following measures may help you prevent a pinched nerve:
- Maintain good positioning by uncrossing your legs or never reclining in one position for too long.
- Incorporate strength & flexibility exercises into your normal daily routines and exercise programs.
- Limit the length of repetitive movements & take frequent breaks when engaging in your various activities.
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly, controlling food portions, and cutting out junk foods.
Dr. Daveed Frazier prides himself in remaining on the cutting-edge of minimally invasive spine surgery. His over 20 years of tremendous success speak highly to his status as a master of this craft. Call Dr. Frazier’s office today to begin your personalized journey! Learn how you can prevail over pinched nerves and move beyond those horrific symptoms.
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Dr. Frazier is a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopedic spine surgeon. He’s held an academic appointment at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York’s SUNY Downstate. Dr. Frazier is also a respected lecturer, accomplished researcher, published author on spine disorders and treatment, and a consultant for several international spine companies.
After completing his undergraduate education at Brown University, Dr. Frazier attended Harvard Medical School, where he graduated cum laude. He completed a Harvard internship based at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA, followed by a Harvard combined residency before becoming chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Education & Training
MD / cum Laude, Boston MA
Harvard Medical School
Residency, Boston MA
Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency
Chief Residency, Boston MA
Harvard Mass. General Hospital
Spinal Deformity Fellowship, Miami FL
Doctor's Hospital, Shufflebarger Fellowship
Academic Appointments, NY, NY
Columbia University; SUNY Downstate
Nuvasive, Depuy & Stryker International Spine Cos.