Pinched Nerve In Low Back

By Jay Herrera, DPT
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Close up of man rubbing his painful back isolated on white background.

Pinched Nerve In Low Back

A Pinched Nerve In The Low Back can be a chronic (long term) or acute  (short term) painful disorder that usually is due to compression of a spinal nerve root (branch coming off of the spinal cord) that can be compressed as it exit through the sides of the vertebra. Often times people feel pain and the site of the pinched nerve. It can also provide referred pain does the buttocks and leg the nerve branch innervates. This pinching can cause Inflammation of the tissue which can limit normal joint range of motion. It can impact muscle function and cause a deactivation of muscle contraction ability which can lead to true muscle weakness and then impact your ability to perform daily functional tasks such as walking, running, climbing stairs, get up from a chair, etc.

The exact cause of a pinched nerve condition is not always clear. It can be caused by sudden trauma like sports impact injury, falling or stepping on an object. Another common cause is repetitive strain, which can lead to a chronic cycle of inflammation which can cause breakdown of the various tissues of the foot and its many tissue layers.

Gentle stretching exercises of the tissues around the pinched nerve to provide gentle range of motion and elongation of the low back muscles can help to reduce tension. . These type of exercises can be performed in sitting, lying down or even standing positions.

You can also implement cold packs when the pain and irritation is intense and warm packs can be applied to the stiff muscles/tissues to attempt to relieve muscular tension and improve functional movement of the low back.

Topical pain relieving agents like BioFreeze® or Penetrex® can also help to reduce pain and muscle tension enabling for improve comfort with motion exercises.

If self management is not successful at resolving the issue, then you may need to seek the care of a licensed healthcare provider such as a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor.

Using specialized techniques, your qualified healthcare professional can implement effective treatment procedures that can include the following:

  • Joint manipulation
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Electrical Muscular  Stimulation
  • Fascial manipulation
  • Myofascial release
  • Functional Manual Therapy
  • Neuromuscular re-education

In the short term of addressing your Pinched Nerve In The Low Back (~ 1-4 weeks), whether it is self management or via professional healthcare intervention, you can expect the pain and irritation to be up and down where it will seem to do better one day then worse the next. Maintaining consistency is key.

If the condition does not respond to your self management and as it progresses into a more chronic experience (> 4 weeks), seeking professional intervention can help to prevent a severe chronic problem that becomes much more difficult to manage.

Your healthcare professional can examine and advise a treatment plan along with a prognosis on your condition. Treatment can last from a couple of treatments to several times a week for several weeks. All depending on the severity of your condition.