A pinched nerve is compression of one of the delicate spinal nerve that branches off the spinal cord and spread to different areas of the body. A pinched nerve in the lower back or lumbar spine is usually caused by the formation of bone spurs along with osteoporosis and spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal where the nerve passes with the spine. The nerves become weak when traveling through narrow spaces with limited tissues to protect them.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Pain can be felt in the compressed area such as the neck or lower back
- Radiating pain similar to sciatica or radicular pain
- Burning sensation or “pins and needles” sensation
- Weakness especially when performing certain activities such as turning the head or straining the neck.
- There is loss of mobility
- The back becomes stiff that spreads down the leg.
- Apply an ice pack in the first 72 hours after the injury to lessen symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back. Ice also lessens inflammation that causes irritation on the spinal nerve. After 72 hours, apply heat since it increases the blood circulation in the area, lessens the inflammation and relaxes the affected muscles. In a pot filled with hot water, soak a washcloth and wring out the excess water and press it on the affected area. Avoid applying the ice pack directly on the skin. Cover the ice pack in a thin towel or cloth and place over the affected area for at least 20 minutes every 2 hours.
- Massage the pinched lower back using analgesic ointments to lessen the pain and tension in the muscles and tissues near the nerve. Apply direct pressure and elongated hand massage to stimulate the brain to release endorphins.
- Perform gentle stretching of the lower back, pelvic and the leg muscles to minimize straining of the lumbar spine. Seek the help of a physical therapist for some exercises to prevent making the condition worse. Wear protective devices such as braces or splint to provide support to the affected nerve. Tight muscles cause nerve pain and stretching these tight muscles causes an increase in their length while loosening their hold on the nerves that provides relief from pain. Stretching improves the range of motion in the joints.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin to lessen the pain and inflammation. If the pinched nerve occurs with muscle spasms, take the prescribed muscle relaxant.
- In a bathtub filled with warm water, add 2 cups of Epsom salt and soak in the warm salt water bath to lessen the pain and promote fast healing of the condition.
- Maintain a regular sleeping habit by having at least 8 hours of sleep.