The different types of nerve pain that an individual might experience vary depending on the specific nerve that has become irritated or compressed. In general, nerve pain is experienced one of two ways: either at the site of the nerve compression – commonly experienced in the spinal column – or as pain that seems to travel along the irritated nerve. Treatment for the various types of nerve pain will depend on the source of the nerve compression, but more often than not, discomfort may be managed with a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments.
Nerve pain is caused when regular nerve function is interfered with. Commonly known as a pinched nerve, nerve compression is a relatively common phenomenon that is often traced to something as simple as a minor muscle strain or light ligament strain. However, chronic nerve compression can also be caused by the presence of a degenerative spine condition, such as a herniated disc or osteoarthritis.
In addition to causing pain at the site of the nerve compression, a pinched nerve may lead to symptoms in other, seemingly unrelated parts of the body. If a nerve becomes irritated in the spinal column, the muscles and tissue innervated by the dysfunctional nerve may be affected. The specific areas of the body that are influenced by nerve compression depend on the location of the degenerative spine condition or injury:
- Cervical spine (neck, upper back) – head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers
- Thoracic spine (middle back) – chest, back, abdomen
- Lumbar spine (lower back) – buttocks, thighs, hips, legs, calves, feet, toes
- Sacral spine (pelvis) – legs, reproductive organs
Treatment for these types of nerve pain is contingent on first identifying the source of the compression. Once the origin of the patient’s pain is determined, the doctor will normally first attempt to manage the symptoms with a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments, including physical therapy, hot/cold compresses, and pain medication. In the event that your nerve pain does not respond to conservative treatments and you are considering undergoing an invasive open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the numerous benefits of our outpatient, endoscopic nerve decompression techniques.