What are the Symptoms of Pinched Nerves in the Spine

A pinched nerve is a common cause of neck and back pain. In fact, many spine conditions, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur, are not necessarily painful. Symptoms are very often the result of compression, or pinching, of a spinal nerve. 

If you are experiencing pinched nerve symptoms, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. The following information can help you have a better understanding of specific pinched nerve symptoms and the treatment options available, helping you be more engaged and informed about the care you receive. 

Pinched Nerve Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of a pinched nerve in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine include:

  • Localized pain at the site of nerve compression
  • Pain that radiates along the affected nerve
  • Unexpected muscle weakness
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Burning sensation

The pinched nerve symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression. Since the nerve roots travel from the spine out to the extremities, a pinched nerve in the spine can potentially cause radiating back pain that travels from the spine into the arm or leg. For example, a compressed nerve in the lumbar spine may cause sciatica or lower back pain, while a pinched nerve in the cervical spine may cause shoulder weakness or neck pain. 

Where Can a Pinched Nerve Develop?

A pinched nerve can happen almost anywhere in the body, but one of the most common places for a pinched nerve to occur is within the spine. The spinal column surrounds the spinal cord and its nerve roots that innervates areas throughout the body, controlling muscle movements and sensations. This nerve tissue is especially vulnerable to being pinched within the tightly packed spinal column. 

The spinal column has three main sections where pinched nerves tend to be diagnosed:

Cervical Spine – The cervical spine (neck) is made up of the first seven vertebrae that begin at the base of  the skull. Since this region of the spine is highly mobile and supports the head, a pinched nerve in the neck is quite common. 

Thoracic Spine – The thoracic spine (middle back) is made up for the 12 vertebrae below the cervical spine. This region of the spine is attached to the ribcage and is mostly stationary. That’s why a pinched nerve in the middle back is a relatively uncommon condition. 

Lumbar Spine – The lumbar spine (lower back) includes the last five individual vertebrae in the spine. A pinched nerve in the lower back is a leading cause of pain that radiates from the back to the buttocks and legs, as well as muscle spasms, numbness, and other back pain. 

Pinched Nerve Treatment

Upon diagnosis of this condition that is the underlying cause of a pinched nerve, doctors will typically prescribe a course of conservative treatment options to manage symptoms and try to reduce pressure on the affected nerve.  This can often be achieved with methods that stretch and strengthen the spine, like yoga and exercise combined with medication, physical therapy, and healthy lifestyle choices like improving posture and managing weight. However, if weeks or months of conservative options are unable to provide lasting relief, contact BEST to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery.

BEST Health System

During the outpatient procedures at BEST, one of our highly skilled surgeons removes the piece of the damaged disc, joint, or vertebra of the spine that is causing spinal nerve compression. This surgery is performed through a less than 1-inch incision with the use of muscle-sparing techniques, making it a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. 

If you are interested in learning more about the treatment options offered through BEST, reach out to our team today. The BEST is yet to come.