Risk factors for nerve pain

Nerve pain is a common condition that affects the nervous systems in people of all ages. The nerves in our bodies are responsible for sending signals to and from the brain, allowing for basic movement and sensation.

When a nerve is damaged or pinched, these signals misfire and may send pain messages to the brain. These signals may also be interrupted, leading to feelings of weakness, numbness, and pins-and-needles.

If nerve compression occurs in the spine, pain may develop in the neck or back, while pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling may radiate into the arms and legs.

Spinal nerve pain risk factors

There are several risk factors for nerve pain developing in the neck or back, both preventable and unpreventable.

The spine consists of the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) regions. Nerve compression is more likely to develop in the cervical and lumbar regions, which are subjected to more stress due to their relative flexibility. Thoracic nerve compression is rare, as the vertebrae in this region are more stable and benefit from the added support of the surrounding rib cage.

Age may be considered a risk factor for nerve pain, as the spine goes through degenerative changes that can increase the likelihood of nerve compression. As the discs weaken, they may expand and pinch the spinal cord or a nerve root. Regardless of where the pain is located in the spine, the following risks may contribute to nerve pain:

  • Occupation. People who lift heavy items each day put additional stress on their neck and back.
  • Smoking. Smoking cigarettes puts toxins into the body. These chemicals may increase your risk for spinal degeneration earlier in life.
  • Poor posture. Incorrect posture while sitting, standing or sleeping may cause spinal misalignment and nerve compression.
  • Injury. Traumatic injuries from playing sports or being involved in accidents can cause immediate nerve pain, but symptoms may also develop later in life as aging and the normal degenerative processes occur.


Conservative treatments, such as rest, physical therapy, and pain medication, among other options, may reduce your nerve pain symptoms. You should consult your physician about creating a personalized treatment plan for nerve pain relief.

If these treatments haven’t provided relief after weeks or months, consider minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are used to help treat nerve pain. The muscle-sparing techniques used help to avoid unnecessary muscle tearing and scar tissue, allowing our patients to have a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication compared to patients who undergo for traditional open neck or back surgery.^

Contact us today for a free MRI review* to find out if you’re a potential candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.