What is nerve root compression?

When you go to a physician with neck or back pain and find out that a compressed spinal nerve root might be responsible, you might ask: what is nerve root compression? The short answer is that it is the impingement of a spinal nerve root by a condition in the spine. The pain and other symptoms that signal the possibility of a compressed nerve root can become chronic and debilitating over time, reducing your quality of life.

How does nerve root compression occur?

The parts of the spine are subjected to wear and tear over the years. These forces are usually greatest in the lumbar (lower back) region and the cervical (neck) region, where the vertebrae and other components must support weight and facilitate a wide range of movement. As the body ages, a number of degenerative spine conditions can arise. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Osteophyte (bone spur) growth
  • Hardened ligaments
  • Spondylolisthesis (vertebral slippage)
  • Degenerative scoliosis

These conditions do not automatically lead to nerve root compression, but the nerves do become more prone to compression as these and other conditions destabilize the spine.

Treating nerve compression symptoms

Pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness associated with spinal nerve compression usually can be managed with a combination of conservative, non-surgical treatment methods like core-strengthening exercises, stretching, better posture and occasional applications of ice and/or heating elements to reduce inflammation and muscle spasms. Always develop an initial treatment with the help of your primary care doctor.

However, if these or other treatment methods fail to provide adequate relief after several weeks or months, consider turning to Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in minimally invasive decompression and stabilization spine procedures to address many of the most common causes of nerve root compression. Our surgeons have performed these outpatient procedures to help more than 75,000 patients since 2005, and 96 of our patients say they would recommend our procedures to friends and family members. Contact us today to learn more about nerve root compression and how our procedures may be able to help you find pain relief.