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What are the Different Treatments for a Pinched Back Nerve?

By Alex Terris
Updated May 17, 2024
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Treatment for a pinched back nerve depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases, rest will allow the condition to heal naturally. Physical therapy, which usually involves a mixture of stretching, exercise, and massage, can also be useful in treating the condition. If this isn’t enough to address the condition, then corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation and pain. In rare cases, surgery may be required for a pinched back nerve.

A pinched back nerve occurs when a nerve in the back becomes compressed. This can cause pain and other sensations in the area around the affected nerve. Pinched nerves can be caused by a variety of different problems, but the injury is almost always temporary. Resting the affected area is usually all that’s required, unless the pain continues for an extended period of time. Even though the condition usually clears up naturally, it is still recommended that someone with a suspected pinched nerve visits a doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Physical therapy can be effective if rest doesn’t allow the nerve to heal naturally in a reasonable amount of time. The physiotherapist will often recommend exercises and stretches to help reduce pressure on the nerve. Aside from exercises, the therapist may use supportive devices depending on which part of the back is affected. Massage to reduce muscle tension may also be effective in reducing pressure on the nerve. It’s important that a patient doesn’t try to come up with his or her own exercise routine, as improper exercises can cause additional problems.

Swelling around the injured area is one cause of a pinched back nerve. For this reason, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are sometimes recommended to help control the swelling. In some cases, steroids may be used if over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs prove to be insufficiently strong to provide relief for the condition. These drugs can have side effects, however, which is why they are usually only prescribed for short periods of time.

Surgery for a pinched back nerve is rarely required, but in some situations it may be the only option. Surgical treatment will usually only be considered if non-invasive treatment has failed or if the patient is starting to develop muscle weaknesses that could cause additional problems. Surgery for a pinched back nerve usually involves removing a small part of a disk to release the pressure on the nerve, although sometimes a larger piece of tissue needs to be removed.

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