by Lindy Royer, P.T.
A pinched nerve in the back can be caused by any number of things, although it may be natural to assume that if you have a pinched nerve in your back it means that you have a herniated or slipped disc.
A pinched nerve can certainly cause back pain, leg pain or buttock pain and might also indicate a disc problem, but just because you're suffering from the symptom of a pinched nerve, it doesn't naturally follow that the problem is caused by your disc.
Back pain and pain from a pinched nerve can come from a number of sources. This article will briefly explain some of the common causes of a pinched nerve in the back and give an example of how it might develop. It will also give you some typical remedies and solutions used for treatment of a pinched nerve of the lower back.
What is a pinched nerve? Nerves carry electrical impulses to and from the brain, and are responsible for many of our bodily functions. Natural day-to-day human operations like movement, sensation, hearing, breathing, heart rate and digestion are all controlled by nerves.
When the impulse carrying information along a nerve's pathway is disrupted by abnormal pressure, the message it is carrying also becomes disrupted. Think of this like your telephone lines. If the lines are damaged, the sound quality is poor.
In the case of a pinched nerve, a structural problem interferes with the nerve's ability to conduct impulses. This leads to back pain and "nerve pain".
The diagnosis of a pinched nerve in your back does not tell you what's causing the nerve to be pinched - it just describes the symptom. Another term that describes a pinched nerve in the lower back is Sciatica.
What Causes a Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve can also be caused by alignment and muscle imbalances in the lower back that put pressure on the nerve - tightness, spasm and decreased circulation all contribute to poor nerve conduction and result in back pain and nerve pain.
A common example of a pinched nerve that is not caused by a disc problem is piriformis syndrome.
Despite the suggestion that your pinched nerve is caused by your herniated disc, many people can have disc pathology and not have pain. You can read more about this in our free report.
Here's an Example of how a pinched nerve can occur...
You're a busy parent, and you spend a lot of time in your car driving your kids around. Your right foot is always breaking and accelerating while your left leg is idle. Over time, you begin to sit more on the left side of your pelvis, "hiking" your right hip up.
One day, you notice a new sensation in your right buttock. That night, you can't get comfortable. The next day, you notice that the pain is now in the back of your right leg and you can't get comfortable in your car.
In this example, your sitting mechanics have caused two problems that are contributing to your back and leg pain: 1) shortening on the right side of your low back, creating pressure as the nerves as they exit your spine and 2) tension in the piriformis muscle of your buttock area, creating pressure on the sciatic nerve as it travels toward your leg.
Common Remedies and Solutions
Additional solutions for symptom relief include acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and Physical Therapy. In some cases, surgery is recommended.
Most of these remedies fail to address the root cause of the problem, and symptoms of back pain, buttock pain or leg pain will reappear eventually if the cause is not addressed.