Important things to know about a pinched nerve in your back

Not only can a pinched nerve in your back cause pain and discomfort, but it can also stop you from living your day-to-day life. For this reason, you shouldn't hesitate to receive a medical diagnosis and follow the treatment schedule outlined by your doctor.

You can suffer from a pinched nerve in many parts of your body, with your back and neck among the most common. This happens when pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding bones, tissues, tendons, muscles or cartilage.

While not always the case, a pinched nerve in your back is often the result of a herniated disk.

The most common symptoms of a pinched nerve in your back include:

  • Muscle weakness in the surrounding area
  • Tingling sensation
  • Burning, aching and sharp pain
  • Numbness in the affected area

Many people report that these symptoms worsen when sleeping.

How to prevent a pinched nerve in your back

There's no guaranteed way to prevent this injury, but there are things you can do to lessen the likelihood:

  • Don't lift more than you can comfortably handle on your own
  • Maintain good posture at all times, especially when sitting at a desk for an extended period
  • Keep repetitive activities to a minimum

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect a pinched nerve in your back, it's important to seek medical attention. Your doctor will run a variety of tests to understand your injury, including:

  • Nerve conduction study
  • High resolution ultrasound
  • EMG
  • MRI

Your doctor may be able to diagnose your condition with only one of these tests. However, they may order several to rule out other conditions.

Treatment

Rest is the best form of treatment for a pinched nerve. When you stop the activities that caused the injury, you'll soon find yourself feeling better.

Other forms of treatment include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Surgery (only if the problem persists for several weeks or months)

Work closely with your medical team to ensure that you implement the right treatment strategy.

If you suffer a pinched nerve in your back as a result of your profession, report the injury to your employer. Also, keep track of all doctor visits. Doing these things will improve your chance of receiving workers' compensation benefits.

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