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Radiculopathy | Pinched Nerve 

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What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve, also referred to as cervical radiculopathy, is an orthopedic condition that occurs when a nerve in the neck becomes compressed or irritated at the section where it branches away from the spinal cord. This nerve pathway leads into the arms, hands and fingers, which means the condition can affect these areas of the body as well. A pinched nerve in the lower back is also possible.

Pinched Nerve Symptoms

The primary symptom of a pinched nerve is pain that radiates into the arm, neck, chest, upper back and/or shoulders. Other signs and symptoms of pinched nerve in the neck or back can include:

  • Muscle weakness in the hands
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or hands
  • Lack of coordination, especially in the hands

If your Adena Spine Center specialist suspects you have a pinched nerve, he or she may order testing to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:

  • Nerve conduction study
  • Electromyography
  • MRI
  • High-resolution ultrasound

Pinched Nerve Causes

The most common cause for a pinched nerve is the natural wear and tear that happens in the spine as people age. This can be due to degenerative conditions like arthritis or degenerative disc disease. For younger people, pinched nerves can happen because of an injury that causes a ruptured disc, such as a car accident or a bad fall. When disc material compresses or becomes inflamed, pain in the nerve root occurs.

Pinched Nerve Treatment Options

In most cases, pinched nerves can be treated using conservative treatments, such as medications, physical therapy or a combination of both. Pain medications can include corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory drugs, or non-steroidal pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen. Physical therapy, if needed, would focus on gentle traction and mobilization exercise to help reduce pain and relieve the pressure on the nerve. In extreme cases, surgery can be performed to relieve the pressure of the pinched nerve.

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