Does a Pinched Nerve Require Surgery?

whiplashWhen you experience the discomfort of a pinched nerve, you might wonder if surgery is necessary.

Generally, surgery is not the first-line treatment for a pinched nerve; non-surgical methods are typically preferred due to their effectiveness and lower risk profile.

A pinched nerve occurs when there is compression on a nerve, often due to repetitive motions or holding your body in one position for too long. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the nerve path. Common sites for pinched nerves are in the neck, back, or wrist.

Before considering surgery, several conservative treatments are usually recommended:

  1. Rest: Avoiding activities that aggravate the nerve condition can help reduce symptoms.
  2. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen the muscles around the nerve, improve flexibility, and reduce nerve pressure.
  3. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, corticosteroid injections might be considered to relieve severe pain.

If these treatments do not relieve your symptoms after several weeks or months, or if the nerve compression leads to significant weakness, surgery may be considered. The goal of surgery is to alleviate the pressure on the nerve to improve symptoms and prevent further damage.

The type of surgery will depend on the location and cause of the pinched nerve. For example, a herniated disc in the spine might require a discectomy, where part of the disc is removed.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue surgery should be made based on the severity of your symptoms, how much they interfere with your daily life, and the response to non-surgical treatments.

Consulting with a healthcare professional who specializes in nerve conditions is essential to make an informed decision.

Virginia Spine Specialists is an award-winning, minimally invasive spinal care practice with locations in Fredericksburg, VA and Manassas, VA. We also serve these Northern and Central Virginia locations: Haymarket, Gainesville, Culpepper, Front Royal, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Colonial Beach, Tappahannock and Lake Anna.