Nerve pain in the back can be caused by compression placed on any of the nerves that run near or around the spine. The nerves themselves do not usually hurt, but the compression of those nerves can cause pain in the parts of the body serviced by those nerves. Nerve pain in the back may manifest itself as a sharp, shooting sensation, a feeling of tightness, tingling, numbness, or even weakness. Sciatica is perhaps the most common nerve pain in the back, and this type of nerve pain can also run through the buttocks, hips, and down the back of each leg.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, leading to a sharp pain anywhere from the lower back to the lower legs. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down each leg, and the pain may occur in an area other than where the nerve itself is being compressed. In this case, nerve pain in the back can be caused by a herniated disc in the spine compressing the nerve, or tight muscles compressing the nerve. A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc — the sac filled with gel-like fluid that rests between each vertebrae — ruptures and presses against the sciatic nerve or other nerve in the spine. When the nerve is compressed, the pain can be felt anywhere in the part of the body serviced by that nerve.
Sciatica and other compressed nerves can be treated with rest, stretching, exercise, and in moderate to severe cases, with muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medication. The most severe cases of sciatic nerve pain in the back may require surgery to resolve. Surgery is usually only reserved for cases in which the sufferer experiences neurological issues, such as a loss of feeling in a limb, a loss of mobility, or something similarly severe. If the pain is caused by a herniated disc that is not healing on its own, surgery may be necessary to repair the spinal disc. This is a rare occurrence, however, as surgery is painful, risky, and sometimes ineffective.
Fibromyalgia may also result in nerve pain in the back. This condition involves a sensitivity to pressure and pain throughout the body, though there is no one specific cause known for fibromyalgia. Sufferers often complain of sharp, shooting pains, dull aches, numbness, and weakness that may be associated with nerve problems. In many cases, fibromyalgia pain is managed with medication, modification of diet, and reduction of stress levels during day to day routines.