What happens if pinched nerve in back goes untreated?

Answered by Cody Janus

If a pinched nerve in the back goes untreated, it can lead to various complications and potentially cause long-term damage. Let’s explore what can happen if this condition is not addressed promptly.

1. Chronic pain: One of the most common consequences of an untreated pinched nerve is the development of chronic pain. The continuous pressure on the nerve can cause ongoing discomfort, which may worsen over time. This pain can be sharp, shooting, or radiating, and it may be accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations.

2. Nerve damage: Prolonged compression of a nerve can result in damage to the nerve fibers. This may lead to impaired nerve function and potentially permanent loss of sensation or muscle weakness. The severity of the damage can vary depending on factors such as the duration and severity of the compression.

3. Radiculopathy: If a pinched nerve in the back is left untreated, it can progress to a condition called radiculopathy. Radiculopathy occurs when the pinched nerve becomes inflamed and irritated, causing pain and other symptoms to radiate along the nerve pathway. For example, if a nerve in the lower back is affected, the pain and discomfort may extend down the leg, causing sciatica.

4. Muscle atrophy: When a pinched nerve affects the motor function of muscles, it can lead to muscle weakness and atrophy. If the nerve signals from the brain are disrupted or blocked due to the compression, the affected muscles may not receive the necessary stimulation to maintain their strength and size. Over time, this can result in muscle wasting and further loss of function.

5. Decreased quality of life: Chronic pain and functional limitations caused by an untreated pinched nerve can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Simple activities like walking, sitting, or lifting objects may become challenging and painful. The constant discomfort can also affect sleep patterns, mood, and overall well-being.

6. Increased risk of injury: When a pinched nerve affects muscle strength or sensation, it can contribute to an increased risk of accidents and injuries. Reduced muscle control and coordination, combined with numbness or tingling in the affected area, can make it harder to maintain balance and stability. This can make falls or other accidents more likely, potentially leading to further complications.

7. Development of secondary conditions: Chronic pain and nerve dysfunction caused by an untreated pinched nerve can lead to the development of secondary conditions. For example, individuals may experience muscle imbalances, joint stiffness, or altered movement patterns as they compensate for the pain and loss of function. These secondary conditions can further exacerbate the initial problem and create additional challenges.

It is crucial to seek treatment for a pinched nerve in the back to avoid potential long-term complications. By addressing the underlying cause and relieving the pressure on the nerve, it is possible to prevent chronic pain, nerve damage, and other associated problems. If you suspect you have a pinched nerve, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.