Pain Relief for a Pinched Nerve in Lower Back


Causes of Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve is a common condition that occurs when there is too much pressure on a nerve. This pressure can be caused by a number of factors such as a herniated disc, bone spurs, a tumor, or tight muscles that are putting too much pressure on the nerve. It can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the area of the body where it is located.

In this section, we will explore some of the common causes of a pinched nerve:

Poor posture

Poor posture is a common cause of pinched nerves in the lower back. Muscular imbalances, poor posture, and low hip flexibility can all be contributing factors to a pinched nerve. When muscles or tendons are too tight and impact a nerve, this causes pain and discomfort often experienced as tingling, numbness, burning, or shooting pain down the leg.

Specific postural habits that lead to lower back pain are:

  • Slouching in chairs or sofas
  • Crossing legs while sitting
  • Rounding shoulders when standing or sitting
  • Lifting heavy objects improperly
  • Carrying an overloaded backpack on one side of the body
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes

Tight hamstrings can also put extra strain on the lower back by leading to forward flexion of the lumbar spine. Sitting for long periods of time exacerbates this situation even further because it weakens the core muscle strength needed to hold up your torso throughout daily activities. Spinal stretches, regular exercise, and adjustments from a chiropractor can help reduce tension in your muscles and joints that could lead to pinched nerves.

Repetitive motions

Repetitive motions including lifting heavy objects, running, or even walking can cause a pinched nerve in the lower back. When the same motion is repeated over and over again, it puts a strain on a particular nerve in the lower back region. This strain goes unrecognized until severe pain is felt when affecting this region of the back. The pain is caused by the excess pressure that builds up on that specific nerve over time due to these repetitive motions.

Moving too quickly while weight lifting or running can also put pressure on the nerve and contribute to a pinched nerve in the lower back.

Injury or trauma

Being injured or having some kind of trauma can lead to a pinched nerve in the lower back. When a muscle is pulled or strained, it contracts abnormally and its internal structures, such as tendons and ligaments, become compressed. This can cause the space around the nerves to become narrowed, leading to a pinching of the nerves.

Other causes include:

  • Slipped discs
  • Scoliosis
  • Osteoarthritis in the spine
  • Fractures

With any injury or trauma of this kind, there is a potential for inflammation which can worsen the symptoms associated with pinched nerves. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience sudden pain that does not go away with rest or with ice packs applied to the affected area.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerve

One of the most common causes of lower back pain is a pinched nerve. This can happen when the nerve is compressed or irritated due to inflammation or other causes. It can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area.

Knowing the symptoms of a pinched nerve can help you determine if you need to seek treatment for it.

Pain in the lower back

Pain in the lower back due to a pinched nerve is a common symptom. It can be experienced as an occasional, sharp shooting sensation radiating from the lower back area and traveling down the sciatic nerve towards the buttocks and legs. In more serious cases, it may be accompanied by numbness, tingling, and weakness in that particular area of your body. This type of pain will typically worsen when sitting or standing for prolonged periods and can be relieved with exercise or activity.

Painful sensations may also develop further along the sciatic nerve path; into one or both legs and may feel more like an ache. If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away for further assessment and treatment options.

Tingling or numbness in the legs

One of the most common symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back is tingling or numbness that radiates down one or both of the legs. This can lead to difficulty walking, and in some cases, loss of control over some basic movements, such as picking up objects. The sensations caused by a pinched nerve can range from mild to extremely uncomfortable.

In addition to experiencing tingling or numbness in one or both legs, other symptoms may include a sharp or burning sensation in the lower back that worsens with movement. Weakness in the legs can occur after prolonged standing or activity and can make it difficult to walk long distances. In severe cases, difficulty with bladder and bowel control could also be present.

It is important to seek medical advice if these symptoms are experienced so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and appropriate treatment prescribed. Treatment for a pinched nerve usually involves:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy exercises
  • Lifestyle changes such as weight loss or improved posture.

Reducing stress on your spine should be one of your main goals; this may require using ergonomic furniture at work or home, and avoiding lifting heavy objects. Improving core strength with activities such as yoga may also help alleviate any spinal misalignment causing nerves to pinch.

Weakness in the muscles

When a person has a pinched nerve in their lower back, one of the main symptoms is a feeling of weakness or fatigue in the affected area. This can often be felt in the leg muscles, as a muscle weakness so severe that it’s difficult to move the leg. Other movements near the site of injury may become painful or uncomfortable as well.

Since nerve root compression can lead to not only problems with movement but also changes in sensation, it’s important to rule out any underlying causes before seeking medical treatment. These causes could include disc herniation, sciatica, spinal stenosis, or other illnesses and conditions that affect the nerves of the lower back and surrounding areas.

Treatment for this type of nerve compression focuses on reducing inflammation and restoring a normal range of motion by using physical therapy techniques such as

  • stretching
  • massage
  • strengthening exercises

. Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and hot/cold therapy may also be used for symptom relief. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if these conservative therapies are not effective at restoring function and reducing symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A pinched nerve in the lower back can cause pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in the affected area. Fortunately, there are several treatments available to help relieve the pain associated with this condition. It is important to accurately diagnose the source of the nerve impingement before beginning treatment. A doctor can help diagnose the underlying cause and recommend the best treatment plan. Let’s take a look at the diagnosis and treatments for a pinched nerve in the lower back.

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatments

Imaging tests

Imaging tests are necessary for identifying a pinched nerve in the lower back and for ruling out other possible causes of pain. Tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be used to determine the exact cause of your discomfort.

  • X-ray – An X-ray produces pictures of dense structures, like bones. It can show any spurs, fractures, or arthritis changes seen on an X-ray that might be contributing to lower back pain.
  • CT Scan – A computed tomography (CT) scan combines a number of detailed X-rays and uses a computer to combine them into cross-sectional images. It can show herniated disks or bone spurs that may be causing your discomfort.
  • MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the newest advances in medical imaging technology. It is very helpful for assessing soft tissues such as nerves, discs, and the spinal cord. This test may often be done if imaging tests show possible nerve irritation caused by a herniated disk or another structural abnormality.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy may be a very useful part of the treatment plan for a pinched nerve in the lower back. A physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles of your lower back and take the strain off of the nerve. These exercises may also help reduce any inflammation that has built up around the nerve, which can ease your pain.

The physical therapy program will be tailored to your individual needs. It may include any or all of the following elements:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Manual therapy techniques (such as massage or mobilization)
  • Body mechanics education
  • Relaxation techniques to reduce stress and pain.

You should discuss with your physical therapist which treatment could best benefit you and how often you should do it for maximum results. After determining an effective program for you, it is important to follow it consistently and discuss with your doctor if specific activities cause sharp or intense pain.


In many cases, medication will be prescribed to relieve pain associated with a pinched nerve in the lower back. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may help to reduce the swelling, while anesthetics like lidocaine or corticosteroids can provide direct relief.

For serious cases, stronger painkillers such as oxycodone or fentanyl patches may be prescribed. Care must be taken to ensure these medications are used properly and not abused. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to provide a more permanent solution.

Home Remedies

A pinched nerve in the lower back can be very painful and can limit normal movements. Fortunately, there are many home remedies you can do to provide some relief and possibly eliminate the issue altogether.

In this article, we will explore the best methods and exercises to reduce the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back. From stretching and yoga to lifestyle changes, you will be armed with the best tips to help you recover from this painful condition.

Hot and cold therapy

Hot and cold therapy is an effective home remedy for the treatment of a pinched nerve in the lower back. This type of treatment involves alternating between hot and cold applications to help reduce inflammation and muscle tension.

The use of alternated hot and cold therapy begins with a cold application on the affected area, like an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth, for 10 minutes at a time. This can be done every two hours for up to 48 hours. After this, applying heat on the affected area is recommended, such as with hot baths or heating pads set at low temperatures, for 10–15 minutes each session. This should be done three to four times per day. For both types of treatments, it’s important to not overdo it—doing too much can cause further damage to the nerve instead of relieving the pain.

Hot and cold therapy is an effective way to relieve pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back as well as from other types of muscular tension and inflammation caused by sprains and tears in connective tissues. It’s also good practice to evaluate posture changes that may have caused these issues so that one can start taking steps toward recovery sooner rather than later. Proper posture alignment will help ensure that similar issues don’t arise again in the future.


Resting is a key component in relieving pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back. A patient should avoid activities that cause or further worsen the pain.

If possible, it is best to lie on a flat surface with your feet elevated on top of some pillows at or above hip level. This position helps to reduce the pressure placed on the lower back, allowing for the relaxed positioning of the nerves and muscle tissue. Additionally, changing positions frequently helps to prevent any build-up of swelling and excess muscle tension.

In cases of severe pain or numbness in one or both legs, seek medical attention immediately as this may be an indication of a serious medical condition.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises can be a great way to provide pain relief for a pinched nerve in the lower back. A combination of stretching, physical therapy, and at-home stretching exercises is usually recommended by medical professionals. When performing any stretches related to a pinched nerve or lower back pain, it is important to listen to your body and avoid abrupt or rapid movements that could aggravate the injury. It is also a good idea to keep breathing deeply throughout each stretch and avoid holding your breath as you reach your endpoint.

Here are some stretches that may help with a pinched nerve in the lower back:

  1. Cat/cow stretch: While on hands and knees, arch your back up towards the ceiling (cat) as you inhale; then release on an exhale by letting your mid-back sink down towards the floor (cow). Repeat multiple times with slow breaths for controlled movements.
  2. Spinal twist: Place one hand behind your head with the other arm extended out to the side, then twist your torso in one direction and pause for five seconds before rotating in the opposite direction – repeat five times on each side.
  3. Knee hugs: Lie down on your back with both legs together so they form an angle of 90 degrees, wrap both arms around them while keeping them pressed against the floor, and try pulling them in close – hold for 10–20 seconds before releasing.
  4. Cobra pose: Start facedown on the floor with arms above shoulders; use upper body strength to lift head, chest, and torso off the ground while squeezing shoulder blades together – hold pose for 30 seconds before releasing slowly.


Prevention is the key to avoiding a pinched nerve in your lower back. Maintaining a healthy posture, stretching regularly, and avoiding activities that could strain the back are all key steps for preventing pinched nerves. Additionally, strengthening your core muscles can help support the spine, which can reduce the pressure on the nerve.

Improve posture

Maintaining a healthy posture is an important step for minimizing the risk of pinched nerves in the lower back. The natural curve in the lumbar spine should be maintained when standing, sitting, and lying down, otherwise, it can lead to issues such as increased pressure on the vertebrae and discs of the spine.

When standing, your ears, shoulders, and hips should be integrated into one line and your abdominal muscles held tight like a corset to provide additional support. Posture when sitting is also important – make sure that your feet are flat on the floor and that you aren’t leaning forward at all. When lying down, try putting a pillow beneath your knees while you sleep or taking frequent breaks while working at a desk to avoid developing back issues over time.

Regular stretching can help to prevent pinched nerves in the lower back as well as eliminate existing discomfort. Make sure to stretch all areas involved with any activity – like bending or rotating during sports – before starting it up again. Stretching helps reduce tension in overworked muscle tissue by elongating it gradually before any more strenuous activities are encountered. Additionally, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise on most days of the week if possible; this helps strengthen muscles around your spinal column leading to better injury prevention overall.

Strengthen core muscles

Strengthening your core muscles and improving your posture is an important step to take when trying to relieve the pain of a pinched nerve in the lower back. Core exercises focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles, hips, and glutes, which form the foundation of your posture. These core muscles support your spine and should provide improved stability and flexibility in the lower back area.

These types of exercises are best done using safe and effective methods that focus on low-intensity movements such as planks and squat holds. Start with a cardio warm-up such as walking or jogging to get your body ready for the workout. Perform each exercise for 10-12 repetitions before moving on to the next exercise in your routine.

Proper technique is important when trying to prevent flare-ups due to a pinched nerve so ensure that you move slowly through every movement with control instead of jerking or other explosive-type motions which can strain or injure muscle tissues further. Most importantly, never push yourself beyond what you can comfortably handle – if an exercise causes too much pain, stop immediately and try again another time when you have more energy or the discomfort has decreased.

Take frequent breaks

To prevent pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back, make sure to take frequent breaks whenever you’re sitting for extended periods of time. Sitting for extended periods of time can cause the vertebrae in your lower spine to compress leading to a pinched nerve.

To ensure maximum comfort, take regular breaks throughout the day at least once every 30-45 minutes. During these frequent breaks, stand up and stretch slowly and gently, taking deep breaths. Taking short walks throughout the day can also be beneficial in reducing stress levels and stiffness in your muscles and joints. It is important to avoid stretching too far or straining yourself in any way as this may cause further acute pain or long-term damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to help a pinched nerve in your lower back is to rest and avoid any activities that may cause further irritation. Applying an ice pack or taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can also help to reduce pain and inflammation. Stretching and strengthening exercises can also be beneficial in the long run, but it is best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program.

Relieving a pinched nerve can be done in a variety of ways, including rest, physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, massage, and stretching. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen, may also provide some relief. If the pinched nerve is severe, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection or a more invasive procedure to relieve the pressure.

The duration of a pinched nerve in the lower back can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Generally, the pain should subside within one to three weeks with rest and self-care measures. However, if the pain persists for longer than three weeks, seek medical attention to determine the cause and proper treatment.

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