A nerve root is a collection of nerve fibers emerging from the spinal cord. There are two types of nerve roots that branch off from the spinal cord:
- Dorsal nerve root, which contains nerve fibers controlling sensation
- Ventral nerve root, which contains nerve fibers controlling movement
There are 31 pairs of spinal nerve roots (dorsal and ventral). These nerve roots are connected to peripheral nerves, which are bundled nerve fibers that take motor and sensory signals to defined targets throughout the body.
Spinal nerve roots exit the spinal canal by dermatomes through a space in between each spinal vertebra called the intervertebral foramen (or foraminal canal). There is a space like this at every level of the spinal column, so nerve roots are able exit and carry signals from the brain to the rest of the body.
Sometimes, the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root may become “pinched,” or squeezed, when bone, muscle, tendons, intervertebral discs, or other tissue invades the nerve root’s space. These materials may include:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Bone spurs
When a nerve root is placed under stress, it can send signals of pain, numbness, tingling, or burning to other parts of the body, depending on the location in the spinal column where the pinched nerve is located. For example, a pinched nerve in the lumbar, or lower back, region of the spine may result in pain or discomfort in the lower back, buttocks, hips, legs, or feet.
If you have been diagnosed with a spinal nerve root condition, your initial treatment will likely consist of rest, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medications. If these treatments are not successful, your doctor may recommend traditional open-back surgery to relieve pressure on your spinal nerve root. Traditional surgery does involve general anesthesia, however, and typically, a lengthy recovery period.
Luckily, you do have an alternative to traditional surgery. At Laser Spine Institute (LSI), we offer minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures aimed at releasing pressure on nerve roots and thereby alleviating pain. Contact LSI today and we will review your MRI or CT scan free of charge, and also provide you with more information about our revolutionary procedures.