Overview of chronic nerve pain

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain or neuropathy, occurs when the regular function of one of the nerves in the body is interrupted. This interruption can happen for many reasons but is especially common in the spinal column as a result of age-related degeneration. Over time, the spinal anatomy gradually begins to break down as a result of regular wear and natural changes. This in turn can cause displacement of parts of the spinal column that interferes with the normal functioning of nerves.

Herniated discs, arthritis of the spine, bone spurs, spinal stenosis and a variety of other degenerative conditions can occur and lead to painful nerve compression and subsequent chronic nerve pain. Treatment options for this discomfort rely largely on the cause, location and severity of the compression with conservative, nonsurgical treatment often being effective. If this condition is affecting your life, learning more about how chronic nerve pain develops and how it is treated can help you work more closely with your doctor to find lasting relief.

Nerve compression and related symptoms

Chronic nerve pain is one of the body’s natural responses to nerve compression. The brain sends and receives signals throughout the body by way of the central nervous system and a network of peripheral nerves. When this flow of information is interrupted, the body may respond with the following neuropathic symptoms, including:

  • Local pain
  • Pain that radiates along the length of a nerve, often described as a burning sensation
  • Muscle weakness or fatigue
  • Diminished reflexes
  • Numbness or tingling

Chronic nerve pain can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can be transferred along the affected nerve far away from the spine. Compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back, for example, may lead to leg or foot pain. A doctor should properly diagnose your chronic nerve pain before you begin a treatment plan.

Treatment for chronic nerve pain

Often, conservative treatments can be very effective in managing pain and improving mobility enough to comfortably engage in normal activity. Your doctor or specialist may recommend hot/cold therapy, pain medications, low-impact exercises, stretching techniques, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections to accomplish this.

If these treatments prove ineffective in treating your chronic nerve pain after a period of time agreed on by you and your doctor, surgery can start to become an option. In this situation, you should consider the minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures performed by Laser Spine Institute as a safer and effective^ alternative to traditional open spine surgery. To date, we have helped more than 75,000 patients receive relief from spine conditions that are often the source of chronic nerve pain.

Contact us today for more information and to receive a review, at no cost,* of your MRI report or CT scan to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.