Types of nerve pain

The different types of nerve pain that a person may experience vary depending on the specific nerve that has become irritated or compressed. In general, nerve pain is experienced one of two ways: either at the site of the nerve compression — commonly experienced in the spinal column — or as pain that seems to travel along the irritated nerve.

Treatment for the various types of nerve pain will depend on the source of the nerve compression, but more often than not, the symptoms may be managed with a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments.

Specific symptoms

Nerve pain is caused when regular nerve function is interfered with. Commonly known as a pinched nerve, nerve compression is a relatively common occurrence that is often traced to something as simple as a minor muscle strain or light ligament strain. However, chronic nerve compression can also be caused by the presence of a degenerative spine condition, such as a herniated disc or osteoarthritis.

In addition to causing pain at the site of the nerve compression, a pinched nerve may lead to symptoms in other seemingly unrelated parts of the body. For example, if a nerve becomes irritated in the spinal column, the muscles and tissue affected by the pinched nerve may experience pain and symptoms, as well.

Some of the specific parts of the body influenced by nerve compression depend on the location of the impacted nerve, such as:

  • Cervical spine (neck, upper back) — head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers
  • Thoracic spine (middle back) — chest, back and abdomen
  • Lumbar spine (lower back) — buttocks, thighs, hips, legs, calves, feet and toes
  • Sacral spine (pelvis)legs and reproductive organs

Many times, the nerve pain will begin in the spine and travel to the associated areas. However, some rare cases of nerve pain will only be present in the impacted areas of the body, making the pain seem unrelated to the spine. This is called referred nerve pain.

Treatment options

Treatment for these types of nerve pain is dependent on first identifying the source of the compression. Once the origin of the nerve pain is diagnosed, the doctor will typically manage the symptoms with a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Pain medication
  • Limited rest
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss and stretching

In the event that your nerve pain does not respond to conservative treatments and you are considering undergoing an open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the numerous benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.

Our minimally invasive decompression surgeries and minimally invasive stabilization surgeries can both help to relieve pressure on the impacted nerve while maintaining stability in the spine; our decompression surgery is the most commonly recommended form of treatment for our patients. Because we approach the spine with minimally invasive techniques, our procedures are safer and effective than traditional open neck or back surgery.

To learn more and to receive a review of your MRI report, contact Laser Spine Institute today.