Is a Pinched Nerve causing my neck or back pain?

Is a Pinched Nerve causing my neck or back pain?

Pinched Strains & Sprains Symptoms & Treatment Options

Back pain can originate from many sources and not all of these causes involve spinal degeneration. Neck or lower back pain—even tingling pain that radiates from our spine and into our extremities—can result from something as simple as a strained muscle or sprained ligament. These sprains and strains can occur from a variety of everyday movements, and unfortunately, these injuries only become more common as we age.

Strenuous activity, not properly stretching or warming up before participating in exercise, or simply bending over or twisting the wrong way can be enough to damage the muscles that support our spine. Our lower backs can be especially at risk for strains and sprains, because our lumbar spine bears the brunt of the upper body’s weight.

The muscles that reinforce our spine are responsible for flexibility, stability, and the comfortable movements of our spine. Our muscle tissue is fibrous, and a rip in one of these fibers is called a strain. Strains can be extremely painful, and the healing process can be lengthy – even lengthier if the strain involves a muscular group such as the extensors, flexors, or obliques, which permit for the extension, flexion, and rotation of our spine.

Our lower back muscles are connected to our spine by ligaments. Injuries to these ligaments are called sprains. Sprains can range from mild to severe, depending upon the movement that caused the sprain and the severity of the injury. If the ligament is torn, the healing time is extremely long and movement can be limited for up to several weeks.

Both sprains and strains in the back can cause pinched spinal nerves. Pinched spinal nerves can cause back pain, as well as tingling discomfort that radiates out to the limbs, numbness, or limited mobility in the affected extremities.

Symptoms of Pinched Strains & Sprains

Because pinched strains and sprains can vary widely in severity, an equally diverse range of symptoms can occur. Sprains and strains share many features in common, however, because of the sheer physical nature of these injuries. But as a general rule, ligament sprains are typically more painful and require longer healing time than muscle strains. Despite this difference, however, general warning signs of a pinched strain or sprain may include:

  • Dull, aching pain at the site of torn muscle fibers or ligaments
  • Pain that worsens when you attempt to recruit the muscles or ligaments that are injured
  • Pain that radiates from the site of spinal nerve impingement and into the limbs
  • Limited mobility or stiffness in the neck or lower back
  • Difficulty walking, bending over, or standing up straight
  • A pop was heard or a tear was felt at the moment the injury occurred

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? To learn more about how we can help, contact our team of experts at the Advanced Spine Center: (973) 538-0900.

Diagnosing Pinched Strains & Sprains

In order to treat your injury, your doctor will need to obtain a thorough account of your medical history, as well as detailed information about how your injury occurred. A physical examination will be performed in which your doctor gently palpates (or touches) the affected area and may ask you to move in certain ways that cause your pain to flare up. In addition, X-ray imaging may be prescribed to ascertain that your injury does not involve a co-occurring injury of the spine, such as a herniated disc or vertebral fracture. Once these more serious injuries have been ruled out, your physician will help you to design a personalized treatment plan.

Pinched Strains & Sprains Treatment Options

Pain Management

Anti-inflammatory and pain management medication can provide symptom relief while your injury heals. Outside of these techniques, rest and hot or cold treatments are generally sufficient to manage discomfort and enable a return to everyday activities.

Conservative Therapies

For pinched strains and sprains that don’t heal within a few weeks, your doctor may suggest the following nonsurgical remedies: physical therapy, chiropractic care, deep tissue massage, ultrasound, gentle yoga, bracing, or traction.

If your X-ray or MRI reveals the presence of a ruptured disc, your surgeon may perform a microdiscectomy to remove herniated disc material from the site of your injury. This minimally invasive procedure decompresses nerves that were pinched during your injury.

If your muscle strain or ligament sprain resulted in a damaged intervertebral disc, your surgeon may recommend an artificial disc replacement. During this procedure, your surgeon extracts and then replaces the injured disc with an artificial model.

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