A pinched nerve in the back is when you suffer from pain or weakened function from a nerve that is under pressure of some sort. In other words, the nerve is being compressed, and that compression is causing pain in your back. This can happen to nerves that control muscle movements or transmit sensations to the brain.
Nerves extend from your brain and spinal cord like a hose, through which important messages travel throughout your body. If a nerve gets pinched, the flow traveling back and forth through it can be reduced or blocked, which can cause prevent nutrients from flowing through. Your body then sends you warning signals in the form of pain to alert you of the problem.
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What causes a pinched nerve?
The main causes of pinched nerves in the back are herniated discs and bulging discs. In addition to the pain that they cause, if the pinched nerve is in the lower back it can compress the sciatic nerve which leads to sciatica. A secondary cause of pinched nerves is inflammation of scar tissue around a joint, which can interfere and irritate the nerve. A third less common cause is a misalignment of the spine that applies the pressure that leads to a pinched nerve.
Typical symptoms of a pinched nervePinched nerves are most common in the neck and lower back. A pinched nerve in the neck can lead to these symptoms:
- Shooting pains in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers
- Numbness and tingling in the fingertips and in the hands
And these symptoms are most common for a pinched nerve in the lower back:
- Shooting pains down the buttocks and legs
- Radiating pain down the leg and into the foot
- Numbness and tingling in your toes and feet
With a pinched nerve, muscle spasms in the back are also common. Also, in some cases there may be a loss of movement skills, reflexes, pain sensation, and a weakening of the affected muscles. Another symptom is that sometimes the sensations and pain may be coming from a part of the body that is not where the pinched nerve is located. For example, a pinched nerve in the lower back may instead cause pain in the calf.
The damage from a pinched nerve can cause temporary or long-lasting problems, so it is very important to be diagnosed early. The earlier you get a dianosis and treatment, the more quickly and completely you will recover and find relief.
The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it.
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