Care at CNSO – Understanding Pinched Nerve

Representation of Human Nervous System with Pinched NervesYour brain communicates with your various body parts using a complex network of nerves. These nerves send instructions from your brain to your muscles, and they bring back sensory information from the various body parts back to your brain.

In order for these nerves to function properly, they must pass unobstructed from their origins in the brain and spinal cord, through the tissues and channels in the body, all the way to their end targets in muscles, joints, skin, and organs.

A nerve traveling through any body part can get compressed, or pinched, if that body part is injured, inflamed, or is affected by tumor or infection. When that happens, electrical signals traveling through the nerve can be interupted, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, or even weakness downstream from where the nerve is getiing pinched.

A nerve can get pinched anywhere in the body. However, certain body parts tend to be affected more than others, and these create pinched nerve syndromes more commonly.

For example, carpal tunnel syndrome results from pinching of the median nerve in your wrist if these joints in your wrist become inflamed by trauma or repetitive use.

Similarly, sciatica is a pinched nerve syndrome where you develop leg pain as a result of a pinched nerve in your lumbar spine. Sciatica usually results from the same degenerative or inflammatory process as carpal tunnel syndrome – a nerve gets pinched by nearby joints that have become inflamed and overgrown, typically from arthritis.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a common and disabling facial pain syndrome caused by pinching of a nerve at the base of your skull by an abnormal loop of a nearby artery.

A characteristic of most pinched nerve syndromes is that the pain, numbness, or weakness is usually felt far away from where the nerve is actually getting pinched. A pinched nerve in the lumbar spine can cause a great deal of foot pain, without much low back pain. A pinched nerve in the cervical spine can cause shoulder or hand pain, without neck pain.

Because of this fact, the diagnosis of a pinched nerve is often delayed while attention of focused on the painful body part, rather than the nerve that travels to that body part.

When seeking medical attention for a pain syndrome, it is important that you find a provider who understands the difference between local pain and remote pain caused by a pinched nerve. The diagnosis is not always easy, for pain cannot be measured. Your provider must pay close attention to your descriptions of pain, and ask detailed questions such as what makes the pain better or worse. In addition, your provider must be expert at the nuanced physical and neurological exam that allows local pain to be distinguished from the remote pain of a pinched nerve.

Additional diagnostic tools include EMG studies, that use electrodes to test how well nerves are functioning in a region of the body. Finally, XRays, CT scans, and MRIs can provide additional anatomical information.

Fortunately, most cases of pinched nerve, once diagnosed, can be treated without surgery. Activity modification, physical therapy, splints, and anti-inflammatory medications are enough to allow the majority of patients to get back to their normal lives.

Rarely, surgery may be required to free or release the pinched nerve. These surgeries are typically performed in a minimally invasive fashion in an outpatient setting.

World-class pinched nerve care, close to home – Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics

When seeking treatment for pinched nerve, look for experienced, qualified specialists who understand the complexities of diagnosing nerve ailments: many of your symptoms, such as pain or tingling, cannot be measured, and may require investigation far away from the body part that hurts you. The diagnosis of symptomatic pinched can never be made from MRIs alone, because most adults have abnormal findings on MRI even if they do not have symptoms. Beware of providers who offer free MRI reviews.

A provider evaluating your pinched nerve syndrome must be willing to spend a great deal of time listening to you in order to gather clues about where your symptoms are coming from. He or she must also conduct a detailed physical and neurological examination. It is only then that your provider can make sense of your complicated MRI, with many possible abnormal findings, and determine whether these findings are related to your specific symptoms and signs. This is an important point: If the initial diagnosis is incorrect, all treatment plans will result in failure, even if those treatments are performed well.

Up to 95% of pinched nerve patients will return to normal activity without surgery. The body has a remarkable capacity for healing, and the role of your provider is to guide you through this process quickly, and prevent future recurrences of symptoms.

However, for the rare patients who do need injections or surgery to regain normal function, the specialists must have a broad range of skills and a proven record of technical mastery to assure optimal outcomes. You owe it to yourself to get treatment from the best nerve specialists in the field.

NJ’s only Comprehensive Center for Pinched Nerve: Available near you for evaluation, treatment, and follow up care.

The dedicated team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics (CNSO) understands how neck, back, joint, and nerve problems can impact your daily life. By working with this team of renowned, board-certified neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, non-surgical physicians, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists, you will receive comprehensive and coordinated care, so you can quickly resume a healthy, less painful lifestyle free from disability. CNSO offers multiple convenient locations spanning across northern New Jersey, including offices in Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex, Hudson, and Sussex Counties. Northern NJ patients can learn more about effectively treating pinched nerve by contacting the providers at CNSO today.

The spine experts of Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics understand that some pinched nerves can heal without surgery.

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