Pinched Nerve in Back Symptoms: What You Need to Know

Pinched nerves affect 83 per 100,000 people. So, if you’re experiencing pinched nerve in back symptoms, you’re not alone.

If you’ve developed a pinched back nerve, you’re likely experiencing pain and discomfort daily. Over time, this can cause a decline in the quality of life.

But, what are the symptoms you should look for? Is the back pain you’re having really a pinched nerve?

Keep reading to find out.

1. Reduction in Grip Strength

The nerves in your hands play a large part in your ability to grab and hold things. Since a pinched back nerve can affect the nerves in your hands, you may have some nerve pain and numbness with it.

Your hands are filled with tons of nerves because your brain uses these nerves to recognize whatever you’re touching. Your brain tells your muscles how to respond to the sensations that it feels.

The information that your brain needs travels from your hand through your arm and up your spine to your brain. If one nerve in your spine is pinched (specifically a nerve in your cervical spine), your nerves won’t be able to send the necessary information.

In response, your muscles won’t be able to perform as strongly as they normally would. Therefore, patients with a pinched nerve in the back may experience poor grip strength.

In addition, these patients may have trouble writing or completing other fine-motor tasks.

2. Pain Radiating Down Your Arm

If you have a pinched nerve in your neck, you may experience a shooting sensation down one of your arms. The compression of your spinal nerve causes problems with spinal nerve signaling. Thus, the messages that are traveling from the neck to the fingers are slowing.

If that nerve becomes irritated, this can cause the pain that many patients experience. That pain can exist anywhere along the pathway, including through the shoulder, upper back, arms, and hands.

3. Leg Weakness

Just like with any other part of your body, the nerves in your legs send signals to your brain. The brain does the same thing by signaling the muscles to move.

If any nerves in your back become pinched or compressed, the pressure can become too much for the nerves’ signals. Thus, the brain cannot accurately signal leg muscles to move.

As a result, patients may experience leg weakness and/or leg pain, which could lead to trouble walking.

4. Pain or Burning Radiating Down Your Leg

With the weakness in your legs, patients may experience pain as burning, pressure, or a similar sensation.

The most common type of low back pain, sciatica, is the most common cause of pain radiating to the legs. Sciatica occurs when a nerve in your lower back, called the lumbar spine, gets pinched or compressed.

Since the branches of the sciatic nerve run from your lumbar spine down through your legs, damage to the nerve can cause widespread problems. Your legs may burn, ache, or develop another kind of pain.

If you feel you may have sciatica, learn more about the condition.

5. General Numbness

If you’re experiencing numbness in your back or any limbs, this could also be a sign of a pinched nerve in the back. As we’ve explained, nerve compression slows communication between the nerves in your body and your brain. Because of this, your brain isn’t able to clearly feel or sense these areas.

A patient with a pinched back nerve will feel numb in those areas. If the pinched nerve is severe enough, the patient may not feel the area at all.

6. Pins and Needles

“Pins and needles” is the phrase that many people use to describe the prickly sensation that happens when you compress or irritate a nerve. These feelings happen when the signals between the brain and your body become somewhat blocked.

The interference of these nerve signals makes it difficult for the body to communicate with the brain, so the brain can’t completely feel the parts of the body that you’re compressing.

Since a pinched nerve in the back can interfere with nerve signaling all over the body, it’s easy to see why this would count as a symptom.

7. Pain That Waxes and Wanes With Position

If you find that your pain worsens or gets better as you move or adjust, you could have a pinched nerve. The pain shifts with your movement because the pinching of the nerve shifts when you shift.

Depending on what’s causing the pain, you may have to move in different directions to ease it. Some people have to stay in a standing, sitting, or lying position. How you prefer to position yourself may differ from how someone else chooses to.

The pinched nerve in your back is not necessarily in the same position as someone else’s pinched nerve.

8. Bladder/Bowel Incontinence

The nerves in your back also control your bowel and bladder habits, so a pinched back nerve can also affect how your bowels and bladder work.

Many patients with back problems experience bowel and bladder incontinence. This means that they don’t have control over when they expel their bladder or bowels. Not only can this be embarrassing, but it can also cause problems with daily functioning.

No one wants to be in the office with bladder or bowel incontinence. Even for those who only leak, this symptom can be overbearing.

What To Do If You Have Pinched Nerve in Back Symptoms

If you have any of these pinched nerve in back symptoms, you need to see a spine physician as soon as possible. They can help you learn more about living with your condition, and they can help you find treatments that may help you find relief.

Our team at New York City Spine is devoted to helping patients find the relief they’ve been looking for. Make an appointment today. We can’t wait to meet you!

At New York City Spine Surgery, our standard for excellent care means treating you as a whole person, and not just another spine disorder on a chart.

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