HealthLinks Charleston May/June 2022

28 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com For the vast majority of people suffering from a pinched nerve, the typical advice of rest, limited movement of the affected area and alternating ice and heat packs can solve the problem in a matter of hours or days. In some cases, pinched nerves will resolve on their own within four to six weeks, and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen can help relieve pain. When these remedies don’t work, physical therapy or a steroid injection into the affected area is often the next line of treatment. However, in about 1% of pinched-nerve cases, surgery may be the only truly successful solution. Sabino D’Agostino, D.O., is a board-certified neurosurgeon who divides his time between working on the medical staff at Trident Medical Center and his own private practice. After completing seven years of additional training at the Medical University of South Carolina, he specializes in surgical procedures that address pinched nerves, known in medical terms as radiculopathy. While most people would consider surgery a last resort, Dr. D’Agostino stresses that the level of pain is not the determiner of the seriousness of the problem, and for the tiny minority who have a severe compression of the nerve, surgery is best done sooner than later to minimize the damage and to support healing. According to Dr. D’Agostino, “A variety of situations can cause a pinched nerve: Smoking is a big risk factor because spinal disks become malnourished from lack of healthy oxygen. Similarly, uncontrolled diabetes allows sugar to clog the blood vessels that feed the body. Obesity creates undo physical strain, and genetics can also be a cause. Accidents and injuries can be at fault, as can rheumatoid arthritis, the aging process, repetitive-motion tasks, occupations that require twisting and heavy lifting, sedentary jobs and tumors or cysts.” With aging or disease, the disks that cushion the vertebrae of the spine can become brittle and crack, leaking bone debris or a jelly-like filler from the center of the disk into a small space known as the foramen. The result is a crowding WHEN TIME AND REST DON’T CURE YOUR PINCHED NERVE By Janet E Perrigo