Unwell young Indian woman sit at desk work at laptop touch neck suffering from muscle strain or spasm, unhealthy millennial ethnic girl struggle with painful upper back feeling from incorrect posture, wondering if she has a pinched nerve.

Is It a Pinched Nerve or Something Else?

What’s causing the pain?

Is that pain in your back, buttocks, or limbs a pinched nerve? A herniated disc? A pulled muscle? Or something else?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “pinched nerve” is not a medically precise term, but doctors and patients often use it to encompass a wide variety of conditions that may cause you pain. The underlying conditions can include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Direct injury to the nerve
  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Bone spurs
  • Repetitive stress

In all cases, these conditions cause pain through “compression, constriction, or stretching” of nerves.

Symptoms of pinched nerves may include:

  • Numbness or a feeling that a hand, foot, or other area of your body is “falling asleep.”
  • Muscle weakness in one area of your body.
  • Tingling or a feeling of “pins and needles” in the affected area.
  • Sharp pain that radiates out. (In contrast, a pulled muscle will usually cause dull pain that’s focused in one spot.)
  • A burning sensation in the affected area that feels like it’s located in your deep tissues.

Treatment for pinched nerves.

In most cases, pinched nerves are temporary. You may need only rest and conservative treatment. But sometimes pinched nerves are a sign of something more serious that could cause lasting damage. So it’s important to pay attention and seek help early if your symptoms are serious or don’t improve.

If your pinched nerve pain is mild and recent, you can try:

  • Rest the area that’s hurting.
  • Take an over-the-counter NSAID such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Alternate heat and ice to relax muscles and reduce swelling.

But if the pain is more serious or doesn’t respond to home treatment, talk with your primary care doctor or pain management specialist. They may recommend:

  • Exercise, stretching, or physical therapy
  • A splint, collar, or other devices to isolate the affected area while you heal
  • A steroid injection
  • Surgery

Don’t ignore the pain.

If you have a pinched nerve, there’s no need to suffer in silence. There’s a lot you and your doctor can do to ease the pain. Also, ignoring a pinched nerve puts you at greater risk of permanent nerve damage.

So if the pain is mild, try rest and home care right away. If the pain is moderate to severe or doesn’t respond to rest and home care, don’t delay. Contact your primary care doctor or a pain management specialist right away.

Make an appointment with a pain management specialist. We’d like to help.