Understanding the effects of a compressed nerve root

A compressed nerve root in the spine can be a very painful and frustrating condition to experience. Nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and carry motor and sensory signals between the brain and the body. Any time one of these nerves is interfered with, it can produce a range of symptoms that either prevent the body from functioning properly or cause discomfort. Many people in their 30s or older begin to experience the effects of aging on their spines, which are subjected to a great deal of stress from movement and supporting the weight of the body over time. While this does not always lead to nerve compression, the resulting instability increases the odds that it will occur.

Symptoms of a compressed nerve root

Many people who experience spinal nerve root compression report neck or back pain, depending on where the compression occurs. Since the nerves are responsible for transmitting sensory and motor signals between the brain and the rest of the body, compression of a nerve root can lead to other problems, including:

  • Pain that shoots or radiates the length of the compressed nerve
  • Tingling or numbness in areas of the body affected by the compressed nerve
  • Loss of strength or functionality in a muscle group affected by the compressed nerve

These symptoms will be experienced in the neck, upper back, shoulders, arms and hands if the compressed nerve root is in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. While nerve compression in the lumbar (lower) spinal region produces symptoms in the lower back, buttocks, legs, feet and toes.

Treating spinal nerve compression

The severity of the symptoms will depend on the location of the compressed nerve root, the nature and severity of the condition, such as a bone spur, causing the compression and a number of other factors that your doctor will attempt to diagnose. Once the cause has been determined, a treatment plan will be developed, usually starting with pain medication and a combination of exercise, stretching and other nonsurgical methods. Surgery might become an option if conservative treatment proves ineffective after several weeks or months.

If you find yourself in the position of needing surgery to treat your chronic pain from a compressed nerve root, Laser Spine Institute is here to help. We offer minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery to help you find relief from your pain without the risks and lengthy recovery^ associated with traditional open neck and back surgery. For example, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery uses a much smaller incision and causes less muscle disruption compared to traditional open spine fusions.

Contact us today to learn more and to request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.