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 the brain about our surroundings and movements.

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

There are several risk factors for nerve pain developing in the neck or back — both preventable and unpreventable — but first, let’s look at the regions where pain could develop.

The spine consists of the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back) regions. Nerve compression is more likely to develop in the cervical and lumbar regions, which are subjected to excess stress and movement. 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 discs of cartilage in the spine go through a degenerative process over time. 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 emits toxins into the body. These chemicals may increase your risk for spinal degeneration earlier in life.
  • Poor posture — Slouching in chairs or hunching over desks for long periods of time 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.

Treatment

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 minimally invasive 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 opt for traditional open neck or back surgery.

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures. It’s time to take the next step toward pain relief and regain your quality of life.