A pinched nerve can put a serious damper on your life. Pinched, or impinged, nerves are caused when surrounding bones, vertebral discs or other tissues put pressure on a nerve, due to an existing spinal condition. The result is nerve root inflammation, a condition known as radiculitis, that can cause tingling or “pins and needles” sensations, sharp pains, numbness, muscle weakness and other problems up to and including incontinence, depending on the location of the pinched nerve.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A PINCHED NERVE?
Major nerve roots route sensory and motor impulses directly to and from the spinal cord to an enormous number of nerves throughout the body, which means a pinched nerve root from an existing condition may cause radiculitis symptoms at any number of points in your spine.
A common condition that causes a pinched nerve is sciatica, which occurs when the sciatic nerve (the nerve that begins in the lower, or lumbar, part of the spine and runs down the back of the legs) is pinched and causes pain running down one leg, tingling or loss of sensation in the leg or foot, and weakness that can lead to balance problems and muscle atrophy.
Spinal stenosis, a condition that describes the narrowing of the spinal canal, can result in pinched nerve symptoms as well. Cervical (neck portion of your spine) spinal stenosis will cause similar problems as sciatica, but in the arms and hands. Severely pinched nerves in certain parts of the spine can even cause loss of bowel and bladder control.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR ME?
Symptoms of a pinched nerve may resolve themselves temporarily, but unless you correct the underlying cause, your nerve impingement will result in future bouts of pain and numbness that grow progressively worse.
If you have already exhausted your non-surgical options for at least six weeks, then it is most likely time to focus on surgical treatment options.
A surgery often performed to relieve pinched nerves is a laminoforaminotomy to treat sciatica, a common underlying condition in which a herniated disc is typically the cause of pressure on the nerve. Surgeons partially or completely remove the affected disc using the latest minimally invasive techniques to achieve an outpatient treatment experience.
In the case of a more severe condition caused by a pinched nerve in which the whole disc needs to be removed and replaced, an artificial disc replacement may be performed. This is a minimally invasive, two-hour outpatient procedure.