Understanding compressed nerve causes

Compressed nerve causes can often be traced to the aging process. As the body ages, the parts of the spine begin to wear down. The spinal discs can lose water content and elasticity, facet joint cartilage can begin to wear down and ligaments can become stiff and inflexible. This age-related breakdown threatens the stability of the spine as conditions like bulging discs, herniated discs and bone spurs begin to develop.

These issues can produce debilitating symptoms if they make contact with spinal nerves, which carry sensory and motor signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

How a compressed nerve causes symptoms

Degenerative spine conditions such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease do not always produce symptoms beyond stiffness and occasional localized discomfort. It is only when displaced anatomy caused by these spine conditions begin to compress a nearby nerve that major problems occur.

Here are two examples of how symptoms might arise:

  • The cartilage that lines the joints of the vertebrae begins to wear down, and the body attempts to improve stability in that area by producing an extra growth of bone known as a bone spur. If it grows large enough, or in just the right direction, a nerve can become compressed and send pain signals to the neck, back or the upper or lower extremities.
  • A spinal disc wears down and the inner gel-like material leaks through a tear in the disc’s layered outer wall, resulting in a herniated disc. In the lower (lumbar) region of the spine, this can compress the sciatic nerve, which produces the set of symptoms known as sciatica. These symptoms can include pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the lower body.

Treatment options for a compressed nerve

If you have exhausted conservative treatments and your doctor has recommended surgery to treat your compressed nerve, consider Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons address compressed nerve causes directly with minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed on an outpatient basis. We have helped more than 75,000 patients since 2005 with procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

Contact us today to learn more, or to request a review of your MRI report or CT scan at no cost* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive spine procedures.