Is your dizziness related to a pinched nerve in the spine?

A pinched nerve happens when any of the body’s nerves become compressed or entrapped by bone, muscle, tendons or ligaments. The most common symptoms include shooting pain, pins-and-needles sensations, numbness and muscle weakness. Dizziness can be caused by the pinching of specific types of nerves, such as the occipital nerve, which give sensation to the upper neck and skull.

If you are experiencing dizziness in relation to any of the above symptoms, it is possible that a pinched nerve could be involved. However, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis for your symptoms so you can get the right course of treatment and get back to the activities you’ve been missing out on.

How a spinal pinched nerve can cause dizziness

Occipital neuralgia is pain related to the occipital nerve, which runs out of the top of the spine into the skull. This condition can have many causes, including compression of nerves in the upper or cervical spine, and can result in intense headaches that cause many patients to report feelings of dizziness.

Here are some possible causes of occipital neuralgia:

  • Nerve compression from a degenerative spine condition, such as arthritis or degenerative disc disease
  • Traumatic injury
  • Compression from arteries
  • Tumors

Getting a diagnosis and treatment

When dizziness and other symptoms persist for longer than a week, it is recommended to make an appointment with your primary care doctor or specialist for an examination and diagnosis. A medical professional is qualified to determine if a pinched nerve is the cause of dizziness.

Most physicians begin treatment of pinched nerves in the spine with conservative treatments like muscle relaxers, physical therapy and massage. Surgery to treat spinal pinched nerves can be highly invasive, often requiring overnight hospitalization and a long recovery period — which is why so many patients and physicians view it as a last resort when conservative options have been exhausted.

However, advances in medical technology have led to the development of minimally invasive procedures that avoid many of the risks and difficulties of a traditional procedure. If you are considering surgery, ask your doctor or specialist if one of these procedures could help you.

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