A pinched nerve, also known as nerve compression, occurs when there is pressure or irritation on a nerve. This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area. A Roswell pinched nerve is common in the neck, shoulder, and back.
Pinched nerve diagnosis
Diagnosing a pinched nerve typically begins with a physical examination and a medical history review. The doctor may ask about your symptoms, such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness, and the location of the symptoms. They may also test your muscle strength, reflexes, and sensation to help identify which nerve is affected.
Warning signs of a pinched nerve
Some warning signs of a pinched nerve may include:
Pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area
These symptoms occur because the nerve’s pressure or irritation prevents it from functioning properly. The specific symptoms can vary depending on which nerve is affected and the location of the pinched nerve:
- Pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation and may be accompanied by muscle weakness.
- Numbness can be described as a loss of sensation in the affected area as if the skin were “asleep.”
- A tingling or “pins and needles” sensation is a common symptom, which can be described as a burning, prickling, or “creeping” feeling in the affected area.
- Weakness in the affected area may be felt as difficulty lifting or moving the affected limb or as a loss of control over fine motor skills.
Sharp or burning pain that may radiate down the affected limb
This type of pain occurs when there is pressure or irritation on the nerve, which can cause inflammation and pain along the nerve path. The pain may be concentrated where the nerve is pinched or radiated down the affected limb, depending on which nerve is affected. The pain can be sharp and intense or a dull and burning sensation.
Weakness or muscle wasting in the affected area
This occurs because the pressure or irritation on the nerve prevents it from functioning properly, which can lead to muscle weakness or atrophy (shrinkage) in the affected area. Weakness may be felt as difficulty lifting or moving the affected limb or as a loss of control over fine motor skills. Muscle wasting can be visible as muscle shrinkage or a reduction in muscle bulk.
Treatment options for a pinched nerve may include:
- Rest and physical therapy: Resting the affected area and avoiding activities that may aggravate the nerve can help reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around the affected nerve, which can help relieve nerve pressure and improve function.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication or a muscle relaxant.
- Steroid injections: Corticosteroid injections can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Injections are usually done under the guidance of an imaging test like ultrasound.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve. Surgery may involve removing a herniated disc, a bone spur, or a tumor pressing on the nerve.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult with your doctor at Apex Spine and Neurosurgery.