Reader Question: What Causes a Pinched Nerve?

For the answer to this online reader question, we asked Dr. Ron Nusbaum of Back Clinics of Canada in Vaughn, Ont. “Pinched nerves are usually referred to as bulging or herniated discs,” explains Nusbaum. The spine’s structure  is made up of 24 moveable bones called vertebrae, which are separated by gel-filled pads called discs. In the centre of spine is the spinal cord made up of nerves, which in turn branches off  from the spinal cord into the body.

A “pinched nerve” is caused when the spinal disc is traumatized, by either a stretching or tearing of one or more of these rings, allowing the gel in the centre to be squeezed off side and place pressure on the adjacent nerve. This can cause serious local back or neck pain as well as pain, numbness and /or tingling down the arms or legs (sciatica) depending on the location of the damaged disc.

Activities such as gardening, twisting especially while carrying something heavy, sports injuries including golf and even whiplash injuries can place stress on the disc rings, triggering inflammation and may lead to either a stretch or tear of the ring, and– you guessed it–the disc bulge then can place painful pressure on the adjacent nerve.


If your pinched nerve is caused by a spinal disc irritating a spinal nerve then the goal for all care is to reduce nerve pressure caused by the disc, reduce inflammation and promote healing. Always check with your health care provider before beginning care. So here are few conservative drug free, non surgical suggestions.

1.    Get off your feet: Lay on your back or side with a pillow either under your knees or between your knees. Get up and walk around every 30 minutes.
2.    Ice your back with a flexible ice pack/cold compress like the Obus Forme Soft Gel Hot & Cold Compress.
3.    Application of cooling gels like Deep Cold Gel or Pain Patch.
4.    Wear a lumbar-sacral brace to stabilize the injured area.
5.    Drink lots of water and eat high fiber foods too promote smooth digestion so that you don’t further strain your back during bowel movements.
6.    Avoid eating highly processed foods, especially ones with high fructose corn syrup which may interfere with the healing process.
7.    Don’t bend at the waist
8.    Refrain from sitting as much as possible during the earliest painful stages

1.    Class IV K-Laser Therapy
2.    Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression
3.    Non-torsional Chiropractic Care

Dr Nusbaum,  has been treating severe back and neck pain for more than 20 years.

-Charmaine Gooden