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Dr. Perry What are the advantages of Laser Spine Institute?
Dr. Michael Perry, Chief Medical Director and Co-Founder of Laser Spine Institute, explains the breakthrough procedures and gives you the opportunity to find out whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.

Pinched Nerve Overview

Your spine acts like an information superhighway, with your spinal cord in charge of transferring information from your brain to the rest of your body via your nerves. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that span from the base of your skull to the top of your lower back. Along the way, numerous nerve roots branch off from the spinal cord and travel to various parts of the body, transferring motor and sensory signals that make it possible for us to walk, sit, stand and perform all of our other daily activities. If you have a spinal nerve that has become “pinched” or compressed, one of the signals the nerve may send is pain, which shouldn’t be ignored. No matter which part of your body is affected by a pinched nerve, it can take a dramatic toll on your quality of life.

Pinched nerve symptoms

If you’ve been diagnosed with a “pinched” nerve, the culprit is nearby bone, cartilage, muscles, tendons or any other inflamed tissue that has invaded a nerve’s space and applied pressure, or compressed, the nerve. Due to the pressure, a nerve’s signals can be both interrupted and amplified, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Shooting pain that travels from the pinched nerve to other areas of the body

Symptoms of pinched nerves vary, depending on the location of the nerve compression. For example, a pinched nerve in the low back usually results in pain that radiates down the leg, while a pinched nerve in the neck can trigger pain that shoots from the neck, through the shoulders and down into the arms and hands. Pinched nerves can also cause muscle spasms in the back and weakness in the arms or legs.

Pinched nerve causes

After growing up hearing your parents and grandparents complain of aches, pains and “bad backs,” it would be easy to blame a pinched nerve on your genes, but the most likely culprit is simply the natural aging process. Here are other common culprits:

  • Spinal arthritis, also called facet disease or facet syndrome
  • Herniated disc; when a disc weakens to the point that it cracks or ruptures under the strain of its weight-bearing and impact-absorbing responsibilities
  • Bulging disc, when a disc weakens to the point it is no longer able to maintain its shape
  • Spondylolisthesis; a vertebral misalignment

While you obviously can’t stop from getting older or prevent age-related changes to your spine, there are a number of risk factors you can control:

  • Obesity, which forces the spine to work extra hard to facilitate movement and places excess pressure on the facet joints and intervertebral discs
  • A sedentary lifestyle, which can cause important muscles for back health to weaken or atrophy
  • Tobacco use, which interferes with the body’s ability to distribute and absorb oxygen and a variety of essential nutrients
  • Participation in high-impact sports

Pinched nerve treatment

Because there are several ways to treat a pinched nerve, your physician will likely run a series of tests to determine the severity of your condition before developing a treatment plan. Something as simple as rest can often relieve the symptoms of a pinched nerve, so your physician may recommend that you avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms. Other treatment options include:

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Massage
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Stretching and exercise

For more severe cases, a physician may suggest physical therapy and/or corticosteroid injections. If these treatments fail to relieve symptoms, back surgery is an option. If you’re concerned about the risks and complications of open neck or back surgery, you may wish to explore the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures available at Laser Spine Institute that offer a lower risk of complication and quicker recovery times^ than traditional open back surgery.

Additional Information on Common Spine Conditions