Minnesota Twins’ second baseman Brian Dozier spent several games on the bench nursing a pinched nerve in his lower back according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. His absence from the Twins’ lineup early this month was cause for concern for his team. The MLB All Star’s unique combination of superior middle infield defense and home run power is irreplaceable.
While missing Dozier is headline news, he certainly isn’t the only athlete who’s game has been interrupted by pain from a nagging spinal condition. In April we discussed how Tiger Wood’s minimally invasive spinal procedure relieved his lower back pain.
What is a Pinched Nerve in the Lower Back?
The five vertebrae in the lower back, or lumbar spine, lie between the rib cage and the pelvis. Numbered L1-L5, they perfectly align to form part of the spinal canal, a narrow passage that protects the spinal cord as it travels down the spine from the brain. Each vertebra has tiny openings that allow the spinal cord to leave the spinal canal and innervate various muscles and organs in the body. A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a spinal nerve.
A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a spinal nerve.
A pinched nerve is commonly caused by:
- Degenerative disc disease
- A herniated disc
- Lower back muscle weakness
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs from spinal arthritis
Patients with symptoms are encouraged to make an appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist, as early detection allows specialists to treat the condition easily and effectively.
What are the Common Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?
Symptoms of a pinched lower back nerve may occur in the lower back and/or lower extremities. They may present as any, all, or any combination of the following:
- Loss of sensation
- Sciatica (pain in the buttocks and back of the leg)
Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back can range from mild to severe.
How is a Pinched Nerve in the Lower Back Treated?
Non-surgical Treatment Options
Non-surgical treatment options may be used to effectively decrease or eliminate the symptoms of a pinched nerve. Any of the following may be included in a treatment plan prescribed by an orthopedic spine specialist:
- Physical therapy. Exercises stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the spine, which takes pressure off the pinched nerve.
- Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications calm down inflammation and reduce pain.
- Activity modification. Symptoms decrease when activities that produce them are slowed down or stopped.
- Epidural steroid injections. Medications that reduce swelling and help inflamed nerves heal are injected near the pinched nerve.
When symptoms can not be managed using non-surgical treatment options, minimally invasive surgical intervention may be necessary.
Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed to decompress the pinched nerve and eliminate the painful symptoms. A micro-discectomy removes the portion of a vertebral disc that has herniated and pinched the nerve. A laminectomy involves removing bony structures that can pinch a nerve. These minimally invasive procedures have a much smaller incision and a quicker recovery compared to “open” spine surgery.
Don’t Delay a Diagnosis
Always consult your doctor if you have pain that does not improve immediately. If chronic pain is keeping you away from the activities you love, contact DISC of Louisiana today to learn more about your treatment options. DISC of Louisiana has convenient locations throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and links to other sites, DISC of Louisiana provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through links to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use this information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. DISC of Louisiana is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.