Category: Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Nerves run throughout your body, so it’s not surprising that one of them may end up trapped or impinged along the way. Because many of these nerves run throughout your spine, sometimes your back structures are the cause of the entrapped nerve. These entrapments can be painful, but the good news is that they can often be treated with conservative measures. Below, we take a closer look at why trapped spinal nerves occur and how they are best treated.
Causes and Symptoms of Trapped Spinal Nerves
Nerves can become trapped along the spinal-neural pathway for a number of reasons. They can become entrapped as they exit the spinal foramen due to shifting spinal discs or degeneration, or due to the movement of a vertebral disc. Over time, you’re at a greater risk for degeneration or spinal segment shifting, so try to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and maintain an ideal weight to help reduce the risk of developing a trapped spinal nerve.
Symptoms of a trapped nerve include:
- Inhibited range of motion
- A pins and needles-like sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Pain that radiates to the arms, legs or neck
Diagnosing and Treating Trapped Spinal Nerves
It is very important that you seek out a professional diagnosis if you suspect that you have a trapped spinal nerve, because treatment only works if you’re targeting the correct area. Since an entrapped nerve can lead to symptoms in other areas of your body, the true source of pain may actually be housed in a different area of your spine. Your spine specialist can help pinpoint exactly where the trapped nerve is located so that treatment is focused on the correct location.
During a diagnostic exam, Dr. Sinicropi will review your medical chart, ask you when symptoms first developed, and he’ll conduct a physical exam. During this time, he may ask you to perform some movement exercises, as this can help give him a better idea of where the problemed nerve is located. From there, he’ll likely use one of the many imaging exams available at his clinic to locate the precise area of the trapped nerve so that he can figure out the best course of treatment.
Treatment of the trapped nerve depends on a couple of different factors, including what nerve is being trapped, where the entrapped nerve is located, and how likely certain treatments are to provide success. For many patients, conservative care helps to rectify the problem. Treatment options often include a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, posture education, stretching exercises and physical therapy. For more chronically affected nerves, corticosteroid injections can help the patient find relief.
In rare cases, an operation is needed to fix the problem or prevent further damage to the nerve. Again, the type of operation will depend on a variety of factors, but the majority of patients who need surgery find relief from a minimally invasive operation. These types of surgeries are less taxing on the patient and lead to quicker recovery times, all while providing the same or higher likelihood of success. To learn more about the operations available to you, or to talk to a specialist about your nerve pain, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.