A pinched nerve, or radiculopathy, occurs when a nerve root or spinal nerve is compressed and causes pain or nerve damage in one of three parts of your spine.
The experienced neuromuscular disorder and spine specialists at Mercy Medical Center can help diagnose and treat your radiculopathy, or pinched nerve, in Merced. Find a Doctor near you to receive personal care for your spine condition.
What causes a pinched nerve?
The most common causes of radiculopathy are herniated disc or bone spurs.
Herniated discs can press against nerve roots that run along the spine between each vertebra, causing pain, tingling, numbness, and sometimes weakness to the areas the nerve root supplies.
Spinal bone spurs result from age-related changes. Over time, the discs become flat and the vertebra rub together, triggering bone growth or spurs. The spurs can press against the nerve roots.
The most common signs and symptoms of radiculopathy are pain and unusual nerve sensations in your back and body. Where you feel these symptoms depends on which nerve is affected.
The cervical spine is the top of your spine. It makes up your neck and supports your head. Symptoms here include burning pain, often in the arm or shoulder, weakness, numbness, and tingling.
The thoracic spine is the middle and upper parts of your back. Thoracic radiculopathy is less common than other types of radiculopathy. Symptoms include pain in the chest or stomach.
The lumbar spine is part of your lower back and bears most of your weight. Nerve compression in the bottom part of the lumbar spine can affect your sciatic nerve. You may have sharp pain from your back to your buttocks all the way down the back of your leg to your foot.
A compressed nerve in the upper part of your lumbar spine can cause pain on the front of your legs and feet and numbness or weakness in the leg. Lumbar radiculopathy is the most common type of radiculopathy.
Treating radiculopathy with our orthopedic specialists
Dignity Health uses the latest technologies, including orthopedic physical therapy, to diagnose radiculopathy. We will then work with you to create a plan to treat and manage your condition.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription medication may relieve radiculopathy pain. Physical therapy may also help. Wearing a soft collar can help support your neck and limit uncomfortable movement.
If these treatments do not work, we may recommend injections to reduce inflammation or spine surgery to correct the problem. Talk to one of our spine specialists today about the goals, benefits, and risks of surgical treatments for radiculopathy.