Nerve Compression: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

Posted on October 25th, 2017 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

Hundreds of millions of nerves exist in our body (fun fact: if you were to lay them all out, they would be 46 miles long). It’s through these nerves that your brain is able to send signals throughout your body. But when one of those nerves is under pressure, usually from surrounding tissues or bones, it can’t carry information from your brain to that area of your body. Not to mention, it can hurt like crazy.

neck compression

How do You Get a Compressed Nerve?

Take the word “get” with a grain of salt. While some people will have a compressed nerve at some point in their life, you can’t get or catch it, like the common cold.

Some parts of your spine are more used than others, meaning they’re more likely to succumb to wear and tear. Most often, the parts where a compressed nerve occurs is in a person’s neck and lower back — areas that have to support a large amount of weight.

When one of these areas suffers a degenerative spine condition, a compressed nerve could result. Some of the most common degenerative spine conditions are:

  • Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Osteophyte (bone spur) growth
  • Degenerative scoliosis
  • Bulging discs
  • Herniated discs

Warning Signs of a Pinched Nerve

Like most injuries, a pinched nerve can range in severity. While some people only experience minor discomfort with a compressed nerve, some people experience intense pain. Some of the most common signs of a pinched nerve are feelings of:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • ‘Pins and needles’

Treating a Compressed Nerve

If your pain gets more severe, you may have to contact a specialist and consider physical therapy or surgical options. But if your pain is minimal or just started, give these home remedies a try first:

  • Fix your posture. If you sit at a desk all day, pay more attention to your posture and consider getting a more supportive chair or lumbar support pillow.
  • Stand more. Going off of poor sitting posture, another thing you could do is stop sitting so much all together. If you have the choice, try using a standing desk for part of the day and take more frequent walks.
  • Rest. Avoid activities that will agitate your pinched nerve, like sports and heavy lifting. But after long periods of rest, be sure to stretch.
  • Alternate heat and ice. Applying heat relaxes your muscles, while ice reduces swelling and inflammation.

Our spine surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialty Group provide expertise and advanced treatment of the common and complex cervical, thoracic, and lumbar disorders. With the support of our patient-friendly staff, the expert spine surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialty Group have dedicated their medical experience and expertise to making your life better.