What is a Pinched Nerve?

 Find out the causes and symptoms of a pinched nerve

Sanaz Majd, MD,
November 15, 2011

When you have a back injury, sometimes the inflammation caused by the injury causes inflammation of the nerve root that lives in between the vertebrae of the spine. When the nerve root is inflamed, it causes pain to go down the nerve that joins with the spinal cord at that level.  The nerve roots in the lower back (which is the most common place for injury) bundle together to form a large nerve called the sciatic nerve.  This nerve extends down the leg via the buttock and the back of the thigh. 

Nerve root inflammation associated with a muscle injury is experienced as a dull ache in the butt that goes down the back of the thigh.  That is called sciatica, and it’s more painful than it is dangerous.  However, it becomes more worrisome when the nerve root is injured by a herniated disc or by arthritis in the back, which present with sciatica without significant back pain.  Check out the article on osteoarthritis for more.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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