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Pinched Nerve Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Mild to moderate pinched nerves can often be treated at home.
  • Reduce activity that causes pressure on the nerve and try OTC anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • You develop muscle weakness.
  • Your pain is getting worse or is severe.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • You are unable to hold your urine or your bowels.
  • Change in gait

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All treatments for pinched nerve
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Read more about pinched nerve care options

When to see a healthcare provider

See a healthcare provider if you have muscle weakness, numbness, or your pain is severe or getting worse. You should also see a doctor if ​​you have skin changes, unintended weight loss, fever, night sweats, or difficulty controlling your bowel or bladder.

Getting diagnosed

Usually, a physical exam is all that’s needed to diagnose a pinched nerve. But your provider may want to do other tests to help identify what caused it or rule out other conditions, including:

  • Imaging tests like X-rays, a CT scan, or MRI
  • Electromyography to show electrical activity in a muscle
  • A nerve conduction study, which measures the speed of nerve signals

What to expect from your doctor visit

  • If the pinched nerve is causing pain, your provider may prescribe an anticonvulsant medication, like gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica). These can blunt pain signals in the nerves.
  • Your provider may also recommend certain types of antidepressants that reduce pain signals. These include nortriptyline (Pamelor) and amitriptyline (Elavil).
  • If you’re in severe pain, an oral or injectable corticosteroid like prednisone can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • It may also help to see a physical therapist, who can teach you how to stretch and strengthen the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve.
  • Depending on where your pinched nerve is, using a splint or brace could help.
  • If treatments don’t help, surgery may be an option.

Prescription medications

  • Anticonvulsants: gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Antidepressants: nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline (Elavil), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Corticosteroids: prednisone

Types of providers who treat pinched nerve

  • A primary care provider can diagnose a pinched nerve and prescribe medication.
  • A neurologist—a doctor who specializes in nerve problems—may be needed to help with the diagnosis and treat severe pain.
  • If surgery is recommended, you’ll be referred to either a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon, depending on the area where the nerve compression is.
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Frequently asked questions