Pinched Nerve Symptoms Might be a Sign of More Serious Back Problems

Pinched Nerve - Female holding back in pain

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What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve is a situation where the surrounding tissue causes too much pressure to be exerted on a nerve, according the Mayo Clinic. In medical terms, a tissue is often referred to as bones, muscle, tendons, and cartilage. Therefore, any nerve that is not able to function properly due to pressure from tissue is considered a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve is a not only a diagnosis, but it can also be a sign and symptom of another back or spine condition, such as Sciatica. Therefore, while many people may say they have a pinched nerve, they might also have a more serious spinal problem.


According to HealthGuidance, the primary symptom is radiating pain, but the degree and onset of the symptom will be very different from one person to the next. Some people might feel tingling in an extremity, sensitive skin, or even numbness. Because our body is full of nerves, symptoms may appear anywhere on our body. While pain is a symptom, pain itself is not a constant. That is to say that there are different kinds of pain, and different kinds of activity that may bring on pain associated with nerve pressure. Sometimes standing or walking will cause pain where before there was just tingling. The weight of our upper body can increase the pressure causing the pinch to increase. When pain appears and in what degree it appears, is a clue that you should tell your doctor.


The first thing to do is to limit activities. You do not want to make the situation worse. The next thing to do is to see your doctor. Back pain is nothing to mess around with as it can be a sign or symptom of something worse such as a heart attack. When the immediate danger is ruled out, seek the care of your primary care doctor. They will provide you with a treatment plan and make referrals if the pain or symptoms do not dissipate in a timely manner. Treatment for a pinched nerve is best left to a doctor who understand how to care for back pain patients. More extensive diagnosis may be required to make sure that you really are suffering from a pinched nerve and not a more serious back issue like degenerative disc disease. Sometimes just rest and over-the-counter medication is all the treatment you need for the symptoms to vanish. It is still best to know for sure what the underlying cause of the event was. Knowing is half of the battle, and catching issues, involving your back, early is a tremendous advantage.
Howard B. Cotler, MD, FACS, FAAOS

Gulf Coast Spine Care

1200 Binz St.

Houston, TX 77004‎


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