Pain in the lower back can indicate a pinched nerve along the base of the spine. Some certain signs and symptoms appear with this ailment, as well as potential risks and, fortunately, treatments. Learn more about the signs and risks of this medical issue, plus pinched nerve treatment options from Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) in northern New Jersey.
What Is a Pinched Nerve?
A nerve can become pinched when it encounters excess pressure from adjacent cartilage, bones, or soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Pinched nerves can occur in any region of the body, though they most often start along the spine, forearm, or wrist.
This pressure generally results in sharp, shooting, or radiating pain. Many patients experience tingling sensations, muscle weakness, or even numbness at the site of compression and traveling distally down the corresponding appendage. When spinal cord nerves are under distress and discomfort, the painful symptoms travel down an arm, leg, on one or both sides. This phenomenon is called radiculopathy.
Risk Factors and Signs of Lower Back Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve in the lower back means there is a compressed nerve within the lumbar spine. Many factors can lead to nerve compression. Some causes of a pinched nerve, such as arthritis, can develop within a year while others can happen because of an acute injury. Risk factors that can contribute to a pinched nerve include:
- Herniated disc
- Arthritis of the spine or spurred vertebrae
- Long-term, repetitive movement or motion of the low back
- Acute or sudden trauma or contusion to the lumbar region from athletic activity, motor vehicle accidents, falls, or similar incidents
- Diabetes, obesity, and pregnancy
- Posture habits
- Scar tissue around the lumbar area of the spine
- Tumor or cystic growth
Regardless of the impetus, a pinched nerve in the low spine can be highly uncomfortable. Symptoms include:
- Shooting, sharp lower back pain
- Radiating pain from the lumbar spine toward the gluteus, legs, and feet
- Muscle spasms or involuntary muscle contraction
- Sensation of tingling, numbness, or weakness in arms, feet or legs
- Dull ache
- Burning or irritating sensation in lower extremities
- Bowel or bladder incontinence
Left untreated, a pinched nerve in the lower back may cause permanent nerve damage, which can lead to distress, as well as greater loss of muscle control and an increase in pain and discomfort.
Treating a Pinched Nerve in the Lower Back
There are several ways to treat a lumbar pinched nerve and they are typically used in conjunction. Common recommendations for people suffering from a pinched nerve in the lower back are:
- Time and rest: Giving the back respite over a period may be the most effective way to alleviate pressure and subsequent pain.
- Ice and heat: Routinely using hot and cold compresses in tandem can reduce some of the pinched nerve symptoms.
- Non-prescription pain medicine: Anti-inflammatory drugs can also tamper down symptoms and discomfort, though they should only be taken for a limited period.
- Lumbar support belt: These soft yet sturdy supports can help the backrest and limit mobility during healing.
- Physical therapy: A trained physical therapist can prescribe appropriate stretches and light movement to ease nerve compression and provide minor relief of pains and aches.
If these remedies do not work over the long term, spinal surgery or related procedures may be necessary to relieve the pinched nerve.
Find Expert Care at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
Those suffering from the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back will find a dedicated surgical and non-surgical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. Patients may consult with many different providers at New Jersey’s most comprehensive center for spine and back pain, including award-winning and board-certified neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, interventional pain management physicians, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists.
Visit one of multiple locations throughout northern New Jersey for expert care in diagnosing and treating lumbar pinched nerves, including offices in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Morris, and Hudson counties. To learn more, contact Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics today.