Pinched Nerve Overview (cont.)

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How is a pinched nerve diagnosed?

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The health care professional often makes the diagnosis of pinched nerve by taking a history of symptoms and performing a careful physical examination. Depending on the findings, the diagnosis may be made clinically or further testing may be required.

Electromyography (EMG) is a nerve conduction study to help confirm the diagnosis of a pinched nerve and to determine the extent of nerve damage.

If the pinched nerve is in the neck (cervical spine) or back (lumbar spine), an MRI or CT scan may be considered to make the diagnosis and look for the cause (bulging disc, arthritis, or fracture).

What is the treatment for a pinched nerve?

The treatment of a pinched nerve depends upon the location and the cause. Resting the affected area is often very effective, especially in cases of injury caused by repetitive activities. Physical therapy is frequently beneficial when a pinched nerve is caused by problems in the neck or low back. Exercises may strengthen the back or core muscles and decrease or eliminate pressure on a nerve root. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen may be helpful. Injections of corticosteroids (an anti-inflammatory medication) may also be beneficial for many types of pinched nerves.

For cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, splinting or bracing the wrist is often used. In cases of ulnar neuropathy or common peroneal neuropathy, learning to change body positions may be required to achieve the best outcome.

Weight loss can be of benefit for many types of pinched nerves.

Surgery may be required to release pressure on the nerve if it fails to respond to medication, splinting, physical therapy, or injections. The specific type of surgery depends upon the nerve involved. However, the goal of the surgery is the same, to eliminate or relieve the pressure on the affected nerve.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/30/2014

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Pinched Nerve - Treatment Question: What treatment have you had for your pinched nerve? Did it help?
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Pinched Nerve - Diagnosis Question: How was your pinched nerve diagnosed? Did you have an MRI, CT scan, or other test to diagnose your nerve condition?
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