Your spine houses thousands of nerves that play a role in the sensations you feel as you move, sit, and sleep. If one of these nerves is irritated, it’s not unusual for discomfort to be felt elsewhere, such as in the arms, shoulders, or legs. This is known as radiating pain, or radiculopathy. Common symptoms associated with this type of nerve pain include numbness and tingling. If this sensation is what you’re experiencing, here are five ways these symptoms may be treated.
Active PT refers to any type of therapeutic exercise that requires your participation. If you have numbness and tingling originating from your spine, the right approach to exercise may free compressed nerves or ease nerve irritation enough to minimize your discomfort. There are many forms of active PT that may help you achieve these goals, including:
• Targeted stretches • Range-of-motion exercises • Posture improvement exercises • Exercises focusing on core muscle groups that support the spine
Irritated nerves sometimes just need time to heal. If this is believed to be the case with your symptoms, you may be advised to rest to give your compressed nerve time to heal. However, rest should be limited to a brief period and combined with strength training and similar forms of therapeutic exercise because too much rest can weaken spine-supporting muscles and put more pressure on the irritated nerve. Modifying your activities can also be helpful if you need to ease stress on the part of your spine where the affected nerve originates.
Nerve irritation that results in numbness and tingling is sometimes aggravated by inflammation around the affected nerve. If this is what’s worsening your symptoms, you may be advised to take over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. Common over-the-counter options include:
• Aspirin • Ibuprofen • Naproxen
With prescription NSAID options, your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon can make recommendations more specific to your symptoms. Your unique health-related factors will also be considered.
In some situations, a nerve is permanently damaged. When this happens, it can continuously send incorrect signals that trigger numbness, tingling, and similar uncomfortable sensations. If this is the case, you may benefit from an implantable device that disrupts nerve signals with mild electrical stimulation. If you’re a good candidate for an implantable device, you may be given a trial device that’s not implanted to try for a few weeks. If you respond well to the device, it can then be inserted with minimally invasive surgical techniques.
If conservative treatment efforts aren’t providing sufficient relief, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure, such as a lumbar foraminotomy. Los Angeles patients may require surgery if there is a structure, such as a damaged disc, that’s placing pressure on a spinal nerve. Surgery for irritated spinal nerves may involve:
• Removing or repairing a damaged spinal disc • Removing a bone spur or similar growth • Creating more space around the affected nerve by removing certain spinal structures • Removing part of the damaged nerve • Undergoing fusion surgery to stabilize the spine if a disc has to be removed
Since numbness and tingling can be symptoms associated with many different spine-related issues, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis before starting treatment. This process typically involves a physical exam and image tests performed for the purpose of confirming a suspected source. Nerve conduction studies or diagnostic injections may also be necessary to pinpoint the affected nerve.
If you’re experiencing numbness, tingling, or severe back pain or you have any other questions or concerns about your spinal health, the industry-leading professionals at The Spine Institute are here to help. Our spine experts are pioneers in every aspect of spine care, including prevention, non-surgical treatment, and state-of-the-art surgical techniques. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.