A pinched nerve, also known as a compressed nerve, is a condition that occurs when a nerve somewhere in the body becomes pinched or compressed. It’s usually pinched by the bones, tendons, cartilage or muscles around it. It affects an estimated 85 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. Have you recently discovered that you’re dealing with a pinched nerve causing pain in your lower back? Here’s what you should know about the top causes and treatments.
What are some of the most common causes of a pinched nerve in the lower back?
There are many causes of pinched nerves in the lower back, but these are just a few of the most common:
- Bone spurs — Bone spurs are small regions of excess calcium that develop on a bone. These excesses often form bony protrusions. The protrusions may sometimes not exhibit any noticeable symptoms; however, in some cases, they can cause related conditions to develop. One such condition is a pinched nerve. Bone spurs on the lower vertebrae can press up against nerves in the lower back and cause them to become pinched. Pinched nerves may lead to pain, tingling and numbness throughout the back, buttocks and legs.
- Herniated discs — A herniated disc develops when the nucleus of the disc in between the vertebrae slips out through a crack in the rubbery casing. Some people with herniated discs may not experience any symptoms, but in other cases, the nucleus that has slipped out can press up against a nerve in the lower back, causing pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis — Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly targets the tissue in the body and breaks it down, including the tissue that makes up your joint lining. Over time, RA can cause the joints to break down so much that the bones in the joints begin to grind against each other. The inflammation and bone deformities caused by RA can push up against neighboring nerves and lead to nerve compression. If you develop rheumatoid arthritis in your lower back and pelvis, you may experience the symptoms of a pinched nerve in your lower back.
- Muscle tension — Muscle tension is another known contributing cause of nerve compression. When the muscles build up too much tension without release from exercise or manual therapy, they can create balls of muscle and push against other parts of the body, including the nerves in the lower back.
How can a physical therapist help someone improve a pinched nerve in their lower back?
Physical therapy can be helpful for people who have a pinched nerve in their lower back. Here’s how:
- Mobilizing tissue with instrument assistance — One way that a physical therapist can address a pinched nerve in the lower back is through instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). IASTM breaks up bands of tight muscle and scar tissue that may be placing pressure on a nerve in the lower back.
- Building strength and reducing tension in the muscles — Physical therapists are skilled at using exercise and therapeutic techniques to build muscle strength and reduce muscle tension in the long term. In many cases, muscle tension contributes to the pinched nerve in the lower back. Strength building can break up some of that tension. It can also improve your muscles’ capacity for stress and reduce compression.
- Reducing inflammation around the compressed nerve — Therapeutic exercise can improve circulation around the lower back, which can also reduce inflammation. Exercises designed to reduce inflammation ultimately may have a positive effect on a pinched nerve in the lower back and may release some of the pressure being placed on it.
Our REPAIR SI team can treat the pinched nerve in your lower back
At REPAIR SI, our range of services includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and fitness training. When you come to us for pinched nerve treatment, you can achieve your best physical, mental and spiritual life. We value whole-body treatment, which means your care will be extended to multiple areas of your life. Each of our patients is uniquely important to us, so we’ve partnered with our community to provide you with the innovative care and quality resources you need.
Our team members are committed to serving our community in a professional manner to ensure that our patients feel satisfied with their care. If you’re struggling with a pinched nerve in your lower back, you can feel confident you’re getting high-quality care from us.