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If you have back pain, sciatica or neck and arm pain, then you understand that the symptoms can range for mild to severe and may limit your ability to sit, stand or walk normally. Your pain may also keep you from working or enjoying your normal recreational activities.

There are many different causes of back pain or sciatica. These may include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis

All of these conditions have one thing in common when it comes to back pain and leg pain: they all may result in a pinched nerve.

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve occurs when any structure in your spinal canal abnormally presses against one of your spinal nerves. Your spinal nerves exit your spinal cord and travel down your legs and arms. These nerves convey messages from your brain to your muscles, telling them to move. They also travel from your body to your brain, conveying messages about pain, pressure, temperature and your body’s position.

Sometimes heavy lifting, poor posture or frequent bending can press against spinal discs, displacing them. When a disc – the shock absorber of the spinal column – becomes displaced, it can place pressure against a spinal nerve.

Sometimes congenital problems or degenerative changes, like arthritis, can cause bony overgrowth or bone spurs to form around your spinal joints. This can create situations where your spinal nerves become pinched or entrapped by these bones. When a spinal nerve become pinched, you may experience various symptoms that can limit your ability to function normally. Understanding pinched nerve symptoms is an important step in getting the proper treatment for your back pain or sciatica.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

Pinched nerve symptoms can be mild or severe, and they may be constant or intermittent. They can come on as a result of a traumatic injury, or they can be present for no apparent reason.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the low back may include:

  • Pain on one side of your back. If you are experiencing back pain on one side of your spine just above your buttock, your symptoms may be coming from a pinched nerve. Other problems, like a muscle strain, may cause this symptom, so visiting your doctor for an accurate diagnosis when you feel back pain is a good idea.
  • Pain in your buttock, thigh or lower leg. When a spinal nerve becomes compressed, your pinched nerve symptoms may extend down your thigh or leg. Spinal nerves travel from your back to your foot and ankle, so pinching a nerve can cause pain in the places where your nerve travels.
  • Numbness or tingling in your buttock, thigh or leg. Many people feel that pinched nerve symptoms include only pain, but many people with a compressed spinal nerve experience abnormal sensation – like numbness or tingling – in areas where the nerve travels.
  • Weakness in your thigh or lower leg muscles. Sometimes pinched nerve symptoms include weakness or paralysis in muscles that are served by a spinal nerve. When a pinched nerve causes weakness in your leg, it should be considered seriously. A visit with your doctor is in order to get an accurate diagnosis and to start on treatment.

If your pinched nerve symptoms are severe and limit your ability to perform your normal work and recreational activities, you should visit your doctor to get started on the right treatment for your condition.

Treatment for your pinched nerve symptoms ranges from conservative to invasive and may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Spinal injections
  • Spine surgery

When back or neck pain strikes, visiting with your doctor can help you get the best treatment for your specific pinched nerve symptoms.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for a Pinched Nerve

If you have tried conservative treatment but continue with symptoms, you may benefit from visiting with a NJ neurosurgeon who can assess your need for spine surgery to definitively treat your pain.

There are many approaches to spine surgery for a pinched nerve. Some surgeons use a standard open approach. This involves a large incision and dissection of your back muscles so your surgeon can visualize your spinal structures and decompress your spinal nerve.

A few specially trained neurosurgeons use an innovative technique called minimally invasive spine surgery. During this procedure, your neurosurgeon makes a small incision in your lower back. Small portals are made in your back muscles, sparing them from complete dissection. Specialized instruments are then used to visualize your spine and cut away any disc material that is pinching your nerve.

The benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery for a pinched nerve include:

  • Rapid recovery time
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Decreased risk of blood loss
  • Less pain

When dealing with pinched nerve symptoms, finding a neurosurgeon who performs minimally invasive spine surgery can maximize your chance of a rapid recovery with minimal pain.

If you have limited mobility and function due to pinched nerve symptoms, you may benefit from different treatments to help you regain your normal mobility. Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to fully treat your problem, and minimally invasive spine surgery may be a good option to consider.

Taking time to understand pinched nerve symptoms and your own symptoms can help you make educated decisions when it comes to treating your pain. Checking with your doctor and finding a top-rated neurosurgeon who performs minimally invasive spine surgery may help you quickly and safely return to your normal level of function and activity.

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