The most familiar symptom of a pinched nerve is pain. But, bear in mind, not all pain in the lower back is caused by a pinched nerve.
One may be experiencing back pain not related to a pinched nerve even if a pinched nerve is present. Trigger points are the most common cause of symptoms similar to that of a pinched nerve.
The pain of a pinched nerve is usually felt in the buttocks, thighs, lower legs and feet. This is termed radicular pain or radiculopathy. Other symptoms that can be noticed along with pain are numbness, paresthesias, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and burning sensation.
The symptoms most often follow a specific pattern or location depending on which nerve root is being pinched.
For instance, if the L4 nerve root is compressed you may feel tingling, numbness or pain on the inside aspect of the lower leg and foot. The patellar (knee) reflex may be diminished or absent.
When a disc bulging or herniation of the L4-5 disc compresses the L5 nerve root your symptoms may be pain, numbness or tingling on the top of the foot. You may notice weakness when extending or raising the large toe.
If the S1 nerve root is being pinched from a disc or facet problem then you may experience pain, numbness and/or tingling along the outside of the lower leg. The achilles (ankle) reflex may be diminished or absent. Weakness may be evident when attempting to lift the thigh off the table against resistance while lying on your stomach.
Of special concern are symptoms of numbness in the saddle region (perineum) or loss of bladder or bowel control. This is named cauda equina syndrome and is a condition that requires emergency medical care. If you experience these symptoms immediately seek medical care. It is of utmost importance to relieve the pinching that is causing these symptoms in order to prevent them becoming permanent.
Due to variations of the nervous systems within the general population, these signs and symptoms may vary or overlap. You may also have multiple signs and symptoms if there are multiple levels of pinched nerves.
Always consult your healthcare provider for any lower back problems you may be experiencing.