A pinched nerve (Radiculopathy) is a nerve that has become constricted by surrounding tissue. This nerve compression can disrupt regular function and cause pain, numbness, weakness or a “pins and needles” sensation, beginning in the affected area and radiating outward to the extremities.
Because Radiculopathy is progressive, the longer it remains untreated, the more serious symptoms will become. Later stage pinched nerves can result in increased radiating pain, impaired reflexes and loss of motor function.
Depending on where the pinched nerve is along the spine, the associated pain, numbness or weakness can extend out into the shoulders, arms, hips, buttocks or legs.
Your spine is made up of 24 cervical, thoracic or lumbar vertebrae that, together, protect the spinal cord and nerves. These vertebrae are connected by ligaments and both separated and protected by discs that act as cushions around the spinal cord and between the bones. Due to injury and age, these discs can dry out, bulge or leak. These conditions, known medically as Degenerative Disc Disease or Herniated Discs increase the pressure to the spinal nerves and may cause the vertebrae to develop bone spurs.
These bone spurs stiffen the spine and may lead to a narrowing of the foramen, the space around the nerve root. This narrowing adds even more pressure to spinal nerves.
Wear and tear over time or Osteoarthritis can also increase symptoms associated with Radiculopathy. If noticed early, Radiculopathy can often be addressed using conservative treatments including pain medication and physical therapy. However, as this condition is progressive, eventually these treatments will no longer be effective in relieving the pain.
Your initial visit with Dr. Skaliy will include a physical examination as well as a discussion of your medical history and current symptoms. The purpose of the physical examination is to check for related pinched nerve symptoms including pain, muscle weakness, numbness or reflex issues. An additional medical imaging test — X-ray, MRI or CT scan — may also be necessary.
If anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy do not reduce your pinched nerve symptoms, Dr. Skaliy may suggest an Epidural Steroid Injection. This process involves injecting a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and anesthetic into the Facet Joint.
If more conservative pain-relief treatments fail, Dr. Skaliy may recommend an Endoscopic Discectomy to relieve your pinched nerve pain. In this procedure, the physician relieves back pain by removing any material that may be pressing on the nerve root or spinal cord.
In recent years, Stem Cell Therapy has also proven successful as a minimally-invasive, non-surgical option for treating pinched nerves in the spine.