Pinched nerves, also called compressed nerves, happen when any part of the body — such as a bone, muscle or connective tissue — puts pressure on a nerve. While this can happen anywhere, it is common in the spine, due to the intricate structure and weight supported by this area.
While the first thing many people associate with a pinched nerve is pain, sometimes nerves can be compressed without causing the painful shooting or burning symptoms often described. However, there are other pinched nerve symptoms you may be experiencing that, while not painful, still require treatment. This is because untreated nerve compression can lead to long term damage that could be painful in the future.
Other pinched nerve symptoms
Conditions like spinal arthritis and degenerative disc disease can lead to spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spine) that causes pinched nerves. This can result in both local and radiating symptoms that travel to the extremities. Some patients experiencing radiculopathy, or radiating symptoms, report little to no pain, but do experience stronger associated symptoms including:
- Tingling sensations in the upper or lower body
- Muscle weakness
The location of these symptoms corresponds to the location of the pinched nerve in the spine. Nerve compression in the upper spine causes symptoms in the neck, shoulders and arms; a pinched nerve in the lower spine causes symptoms in the hips, buttocks and legs.
A pinched nerve with no pain: how to treat it
If you have been diagnosed with a pinched nerve but are not experiencing pain, it might be tempting to think you don’t need treatment. This concern should only be answered by your primary care doctor. While some spine issues can resolve on their own, they are generally age-related conditions.
The best thing you can do for a pinched nerve with no pain is to make lifestyle decisions that best impact your overall health and wellness. This includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, good posture and not smoking. Overall health can potentially have a positive impact on the health of both your spine and nervous system.
If surgery ever becomes an option for your pinched nerve, either through the onset of pain or the severity of the condition, be aware of all surgical options. This can include minimally invasive spine surgical procedures that are an effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.