Nerve compression is a common cause of back pain and neck pain in the United States and worldwide. The Cleveland Clinic says more than 250,000 American adults suffer from nerve compression — roughly 85 of every 100,000 adults.
While some “pinched nerves” may resolve independently with a little TLC, some nerve compression problems worsen over time. If you ignore your symptoms, you could wind up with permanent nerve damage, along with chronic pain, muscle weakness, and mobility problems.
At Vulcan Pain Management, Victor Mendoza, MD, and his team treat nerve compression using an array of non-surgical pain management treatments for long-term relief of painful symptoms. Here’s how to tell when it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mendoza at his Birmingham, Alabama, practice.
Nerve compression basics
Nerve compression usually happens at your joints — most often your wrists or the joints in your neck or lower back, when a nerve gets “pinched” or “trapped” by the surrounding tissue. The most common causes of joint compression include:
- Spinal conditions and diseases
- Traumatic injury
- Repetitive use of a joint
- Heavy lifting
- Abrupt twisting of your spine
- Wear and tear due to aging or overuse
- Underlying medical conditions like arthritis or obesity
Many of these issues, like repetitive movement or heavy lifting, cause inflammation in the soft tissues or tendons. When these tissues swell, they put pressure on the nerves, resulting in painful symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of nerve compression
Some of the most common signs of nerve compression include:
- Dull, aching pain in the back or neck
- Shocklike bursts of pain in the back or neck
- Pain, numbness, or tingling radiating into an arm or leg
- Loss of sensation in a limb
- Frequently feeling like your hand or foot is “asleep”
Milder forms of nerve compression may clear up on their own with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce swelling, along with some rest and activity modification.
If you’ve tried these measures and still have symptoms after a few days, it’s crucial to schedule an office visit to help prevent more severe problems like permanent nerve damage.
You should also call the office immediately if you have any of these symptoms associated with nerve compression:
- Loss of coordination
- Problems controlling your bowels or bladder
- Problems walking or using your hands
- Loss of feeling in your legs, feet, or hands
- Problems performing routine activities
- Unrelenting burning or shooting pain
- Pain that prevents you from standing or using a limb
Dr. Mendoza uses special nerve conduction studies and other tests to evaluate nerve compression to determine the underlying cause and the specific location of the affected nerves.
Treating nerve compression
Because nerve compression can happen in different parts of your body for different reasons, Dr. Mendoza customizes treatment plans to meet each individual’s unique needs. Depending on what’s causing your pinched nerves, your treatment plan may include treatments like:
- Nerve blocks to interrupt nerve signaling
- Facet joint injections for compression involving spine joints
- Electrothermal treatments for disc-related nerve compression
- Laser therapy for natural healing in multiple joints
Dr. Mendoza may also recommend lifestyle changes or activity modification to allow inflammation a chance to subside.
Don’t let nerve compression take a toll on your life. If you have pinched nerve symptoms, call or book an appointment online today and learn how the team at Vulcan Pain Management can help.