A pinched spinal nerve can affect your every move. The slightest movement in your neck or back may add painful pressure to the already compressed nerve. And many people experience excruciating pain that begins at the pinched nerve and shoots down their arms or legs.
But you don’t need to live with this type of pain. As a spine specialist, Richard B. Kim, MD, determines the underlying cause of your pain, explains your treatment options, and provides individualized care that eases your pain.
Whenever possible, we begin your treatment with the most conservative, nonsurgical options. However, there are some exceptions.
If you were previously under a physician’s care, have given conservative treatment options a fair try, and you still have severe pain, we may recommend the next level of care.
We may also suggest other treatments if your symptoms, a physical exam, and our in-depth diagnostic testing reveal a spinal problem that puts you at risk for serious complications or permanent nerve damage.
Your pain may slowly improve over several months of conservative care. Resting the area and limiting your movement (to relieve stress on the pinched nerve) give inflamed and irritated nerves time to heal.
The next step is physical therapy. This treatment provides therapeutic exercise that gently stretches your spine, reduces pain and inflammation, and supports healing. As your pain improves, your physical therapist adjusts your treatment plan to restore movement and strengthen the muscles supporting your spine.
As part of your conservative treatment, we may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), prescription medications, and/or steroid injections. Injecting steroids near the pinched nerve alleviates your pain by reducing nerve swelling.
Sometimes the only way to relieve the pain of a pinched nerve is to repair the source of the problem. Pinched nerves develop when spine conditions push against the nerve, trapping it between immovable structures.
This problem is common because the spinal nerves travel through openings surrounded by bones. The spinal cord goes through an opening in the center of each vertebra, while nerves leave and return to the spine through tiny openings in the bones.
While the bones protect your nerves, they also limit the amount of space. When a problem like a herniated disc, bone spur, degenerated disc, thickened ligaments, or slipped vertebrae intrude into these openings, they push against the nerves.
We specialize in minimally invasive procedures that relieve your pain by repairing the problem and/or creating more space around the nerve. The best procedure for you depends on the type and location of your underlying condition.
We have extensive experience performing procedures such as:
A discectomy treats a herniated disc by removing part of the disc or the entire disc. The surgery you need depends on the extent of the damage to the disc.
We may be able to remove the damaged part and leave the disc in place. If we need to take out the entire disc, we restore spinal stability with either a spinal fusion or by inserting an artificial disc replacement.
We may recommend one of several procedures that decompress the nerve by creating more space or removing the structure pinching the nerve.
During a laminectomy we remove the back side of the vertebra called the lamina. This creates more space for the nerves and also allows us to reach and remove structures pinching the nerve, such as bone spurs and thickened ligaments.
This is similar to a laminectomy but we remove a smaller part of the lamina.
A foraminotomy is a procedure to enlarge the vertebral opening (the foramen) where nerves leave the spinal canal.
During a laminoforaminotomy, we give the nerves more room by removing parts of the lamina and foramen.
If you spend your days in pain due to a pinched spinal nerve, don’t wait to learn about your treatment options. Call Richard B. Kim, MD, today or request an appointment online.