Spine Pain Is Not Always Indicative of a Pinched Nerve in the Back
A pinched nerve in the back has become a common way to describe any type of pain that presents in the middle or lower back. However, it's important to remember that a pinched nerve is actually a very specific condition that involves the compression of a spinal nerve due to an anatomical abnormality. For example, the vertebrae of the spine can fracture, shift, or develop bone spurs; the intervertebral discs can rupture or bulge; unstable facet joints can lead to vertebral slippage; ligaments can calcify and thicken. The list goes on, but the important thing to remember is that not every ache or pain in the back is indicative of a spinal pinched nerve. Only a doctor can give you an accurate diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.
Alternative Causes of Pain in the Middle or Lower Back
A pinched nerve in the middle back, or thoracic spine, may cause symptoms of pain, tingling, or weakness that seem to surround the ribcage, kidneys, chest, abdomen, and inner arms. A pinched nerve in the lower back, or lumbar spine, will likely cause discomfort in the buttocks, hips, legs, and feet. However, the following conditions can often cause similar sets of symptoms:
- Kidney disorders
- Cauda equina syndrome (a medical emergency)
- Acid reflux
- Piriformis syndrome
- Bladder infection
- Paget's disease
- Inflammatory lung diseases
The Importance of Obtaining a Proper Diagnosis
Since relatively similar symptoms can possibly be indicative of such a wide variety of conditions, it is important that you only get a diagnosis from your physician or a spine specialist. Trying to diagnose and treat yourself may exacerbate your condition or lead to dangerous drug interactions. When making a diagnosis, your doctor likely will examine you thoroughly, review your symptoms, analyze your medical history, test your range of motion, and perform medical imaging tests in an attempt to pinpoint the exact cause of your pain.